June 23, 2009 Scientists say they are forging ahead in developing replacements for petrochemical fuels that will be cost-competitive and renewable while having a minimal impact on the environment, reports Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN). A consensus is emerging that no one technology will reign supreme and that a range of current and novel methodologies will contribute to meeting biofuel needs, according to the June 15 issue of GEN.
"It's been estimated that fossil fuels constitute more than eighty percent of the world's main energy supply," says John Sterling, Editor in Chief of GEN. "Both economics and the concern over global warming require that technologies be used to significantly lower this number."
Edenspace Systems is working on Energy Corn™, a feedstock designed to cut the cost of producing cellulosic biofuels from corn stover. The company's technology platform, based on identifying promising cellulose genes, transforming crop plants with candidate genes, and evaluating the effects on growth, yield, and cellulose hydrolysis, would be applicable to a variety of energy crops including switchgrass, sorghum, and sugar cane.
Officials at Coskata say the company relies on a hybrid approach based on its Flex Ethanol™ technology, which combines gasification and fermentation in a thermo-biological pathway to produce fuel-grade ethanol that it contends can be cost-competitive with gasoline. The process reportedly is able to yield more than 100 gallons of ethanol per ton of dry biomass.
Also discussed in the GEN article is biofuel research taking place at ICM, Qteros, Synthetic Genomics, Solazyme, and the United States Department of Agriculture.
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