Science Daily runs through some of the ways the US could meet President Bush’s goal to produce 35 billion gallons a year of renewable and alternative fuels by 2017. The best way to meet this goal is to produce cellulosic ethanol, according to Chris Somerville, professor of biological sciences at Stanford University and director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Plant Biology. Cellulosic ethanol is distilled from the fermentation of sugars from the entire plant, not just the grains and therefore can create much more biofuel per acre. However, the production of cellulosic ethanol is in its infancy, and is much more expensive to produce than ethanol. Somerville predicts that it will take seven to ten years before cellulosic ethanol can be produced at competitive prices.
Scientists are currently looking at a plant named Miscanthus as the ideal plant to produce cellulosic ethanol. Miscanthus, which is native to the subtropical regions of Africa and southern Asia, uses very little water to grow compared to other sources of cellulosic ethanal.