Home & Office

Biofuels, the debate continues

Nature.com has an interesting take on American governmental mandate for more biofuels.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor

Nature.com has an interesting take on American governmental mandate for more biofuels. You'll have to pay to read the whole piece, but all the talkbacks are free and some quite thoughtful. They come from enemies, friends and interested observers of the whole biofuel issue. Corn lovers to corn haters.

Maybe Congress just wants a "biofuel source that would leave us still dependent on fossil fuels and wouldn't hold a significant advantage"?

"In Vancouver, we have a wonderful land-fill to gas plant in operation where we capture the released methane from decomposing organic waste from our landfill..."

"Corn-ethanol is expensive and sugarcane-ethanol is cheeper [sic]. If US remove the taxes imposed to the brazillian ethanol the price of the liquid fluel in US would go down and US would have enogh ethanol till cellulose works." [This doesn't take into account the economic imperative in places like Brazil to demolish the rain forest to grow sugar cane to power American SUVs, of course.]

Biofuels: "They're more or less carbon neutral, but never carbon-negative" would be true if it did not require natural gas for fertilizers, diesel for shipping, and field operations, and coal for dehydrating the ethanol, (natural gas is too expensive). When these are factored in ethanol does little, or even increases GHGs."

I've blogged elsewhere on the food v. fuel debate swirling around biofuels. Crops like sugar cane and corn and rapeseed are often grown on the same fertile land that could, perhaps should, produce food for man or other beasts.

Just did blog on the clever plan to re-use cooking oils for vehicle fuel on large scale. And I've blogged about my fav: buffalo grass that can power cars as well as bison.

I don't see myself as much of prognosticator, but I do expect this debate over biofuel, it's stature as an economic or environmentally positive enegy source and the ethics of food or fuel to just become more heated. Too bad there's no way to capture all THAT human energy.

Editorial standards