USDA, DOE Announce $25 Million for Advanced Bioenergy Research (i.e. Beyond Corn)

January 30 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2020   Rating: 4 Hot

next generation biofuels

There is an echo chamber of cynicism around the topic of corn ethanol.  Unless you are a corn farmer or part of the ethanol lobby, evergyone agrees that this is not a sustainable path. 

So the world is moving forward. The conversation is now focused on next generation bioenergy solutions that avoid the problems of 'crop' based biofuels.

The US government has placed a ceiling on future growth for corn derived fuels, and now the Obama administration has announced up to $25 million in funding for research and development of technologies and processes to produce biofuels, bioenergy, and high-value biobased products.

The money will fund projects related to: Feedstocks development; Biofuels and biobased products development; and Biofuels development analysis.

What is happening?  'Biology' is coming of age as a driver of industrial and energy applications.

Why 'Bioenergy' has more to do with Bio-Industrialism than Farming

'Bio energy' is much bigger than corn ethanol and plant-based energy conversion. 

Bio energy refers to human beings tapping the power of biological pathways that can capture carbon, and then using the power of sunlight bind carbon with hydrogen to store energy in the form of a chemical bond.

These hydrogen-carbon bonds are more valuable than carbon dioxide up the atmosphere.  

Mother Nature uses biological process to store energy in the forms of bonds, so why not human beings?

The most common forms of energy (coal and oil) arrived here via ancient biochemical pathways. Coal is ancient biomass- likely ferns. Oil is likely ancient micro organisms that lived in shallow seas.

In both cases life (biology) used the power of sunlight to re-arrange carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. (Algae and bacteria are better converters compared to plants and also result in higher hydrogen to carbon ratio.) 

While the government might not admit it, these types of programs enable something much bigger than an oil subsittute.  Microorganisms could create the chemical bonds of a wide range of industrial applications.

Bio-industrialism is a foundation industry for the next century.

 

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Comment Thread (4 Responses)

  1. I have started to compare corn farmers to tobacco farmers. Until we stop subsidizing them, they are going to continue to grow it and industry will have to find some use for it. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE corn with mashed potatoes or in tortillas but ethanol and corn syrup have got to go. We should be growing more sugar in Hawaii and Florida instead. They have better applications for both energy and sweeteners.

    Posted by: AdamEdwards   January 31, 2009
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  2. Adam It’s a great framing of the problem with incentives…

    It’s just a hard agri-political reality to change! But I can see your position that says we do need to change it..!

    Sounds like a post is brewing!

    G_

    Posted by: Garry Golden   February 01, 2009
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