Biofuel, more questions than answers

There's an interesting commentary from AlwaysOn concerning biofuels. The author posits three waves of the biofuel business and tech development.

There's an interesting commentary from AlwaysOn concerning biofuels. The author posits three waves of the biofuel business and tech development. The third and latest wave depends on much of the current biofuel-related research proving out. Better enzymes are needed. This commentary focuses on corn as the main source of biomass in the near term.

There are many biofuel doubters. Witness this piece from Rupert Murdoch's U.K. newspaper. As I said in a previous blog the most crucial issue in the future of biofuel, including biodiesel: is it economical compared with petroleum for powering vehicles? Right now crude oil prices are very favorable to biofuels of all kinds. Even if the biofuel is energy negative overall.

The commentary from AlwaysOn is clearly focused only on America. In Europe corn is NOT a major fuel crop. For biodiesel it's rapeseed, which is major crop in France. For ethanol it's the sugar beet, just as in Brzail it's sugar cane.

If the point of biofuel is to redcuce greenhouse gas emissions, corn is not the best choice. A study in U.S. shows here that swtichgrass or poplar are far better for the environment. However, if you're goal is primarily financial the USDA subsidies can make corn or soybeans just look real nice like.

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