More and Better Biofuels posted an interesting article on the current happenings in the biofuel arena.    And it sounds like there’s lots of good stuff going on.     A widespread switch seems to be underway from the first generation of biofuels that were made out of food crops like corn and soybeans.   The current focus is on weedy crops like crambe (a drought tolerant weed like plant that can be grown on marginal land), switchgrass, miscanthus, and others.  One possible breakthrough in the use of woody type plants for biofuel comes from researchers at North Carolina State University – they have come up with a way to avoid the use of harsh chemicals that are currently used to break down the lignin (the main substance that becomes wood).   Instead of using chemicals, they expose the biomass to gaseous ozone, which breaks down the lignin.   While the new process is more expensive than the chemicals it replaces, it actually is more cost effective because it makes more efficient use of the plant matter and ends up producing a higher yield of biofuel out of the biomass.

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