Converting Plant Carbs to Fuel

From Nature.com via Eco-Portal, news of experiments at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with “[creating] fuel from the carbohydrates that make up about 75% of a plant’s dried weight.”

The result is a much more efficient use of plant material, report James Dumesic, a chemist from University of Wisconsin, Madison, and his colleagues in Science.
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The plant-derived hydrocarbons are just like conventional diesel, notes Jens Rostrup-Nielsen of Haldor Topsoe, a chemical technology company based in Lyngby, Denmark, so they can be distributed through existing infrastructure. This makes the fuel easier to use than hydrogen, for example, which requires a different kind of pumping station and storage system.

If all goes according to plan, Dumesic estimates one could grow enough plants in the United States to power a significant percentage of the country’s vehicles.

According to the article, the process these scientists have created is much more efficient than the “energy-intensive” method of fermenting glucose into ethanol. There’s plenty of science here if you’re up on your chemistry. Sounds interesting — could this be another viable addition to a clean-energy mix?

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