Monday, December 22, 2008

Advanced Biofuels Initiative

I've finally wrapped up my scholastic responsibilities that have kept me away from blogging these past few months, which hopefully means that I will get back to a semi-regular schedule of postings. What better way to jump back in then to talk about the new plan by the Department of Energy to fund $200 million worth of test-phase biofuels plants that will work to produce advanced biofuels from cellulosic feedstocks. Their goal for the test-phase plants is to have at least 1 ton per day of cellulosic biomass be processed with the production of advanced biofuels. Advanced biofuels pertain to the production of non-ethanol or biodiesel liquid fuels from plant biomass that generally relates to those biofuels from cellulosic-derived sources.
The DOE plans to award 5 to 12 institutions/companies with the money to explore these possibilities, which could be the final push necessary to move the research in the industry beyond the lab and into the commercial realm. Several problems stand in the way, however, including how to properly release the energy held in the cellulosic biomass to produce the biofuel, and how to form the desired biofuel once this has occurred. It appears, however, that the government on the federal level is already taking the initiative to move some of these projects forward.