Monday, September 24, 2007
Joel Bourne has a very accessible, clearly written story in the October National Geographic on biofuels, which seems to be the subject du jour. As expected, he comes down hard on the (pipe) dream of corn ethanol. The real promise of biofuels, he stresses, lies in cellulosic sources -- stalks, leaves, sawdust -- as opposed to foodstuffs like corn, sugar and soy. Cellulosic ethanol remains a big 'if' both technologically and economically (there is currently no large-scale commercial production of the stuff), but if the potential can be unlocked and cars can be made to burn fuel far more efficiently, then biofuels could one day deliver both independence from petroleum and sharply reduced carbon emissions. That's a good dream to have.