Saturday, September 09, 2006

Pros and cons of the ethanol business

On Friday, the NY Times business section had an informative story about engineering of crops to produce ethanol. It is a good reminder that biofuels are not an immediate solution to the American dependency on oil or the greenhouse gas burden.

As the article points out, the U.S. Energy Department reports that even if entire U.S. corn crop, which is about 40% of the world's corn, were used to produce ethanol, it would only replace 15% of U.S. petroleum use. The key to future ethanol production is likely to be genetic engineering: adding enzymes to corn to aid the conversion of plant starches to sugars (fermented to become ethanol) and improving yields of grasses whose cellulose can be converted to fuel. The article reviews the benefits and some of the dangers of crop engineering, like cross-pollination with wild species (good luck finding non-engineering canola anymore).


tim said...

If you are very interested in economist reservations on GCC actions read:

The author raises issue of industrial capitalism as a life saver. This just rounded up my search in answering a question why I am intuituvly against most of GCC actions. Free thinking person who able to deliver solutions that solve proplems can not act in the political environment that GCC scaremongers trying to preatch. There is a problem, but doing nothing is better than killing Tesla's, Edison's of this generation. All these people are product of industrial capitalism.

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