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Wood Chips and Algae: Biofuels of the Future

What will be the biofuel of the future? If there are too many limits on the large-scale production of corn and sugar-based ethanol, what other kinds of biomass can be used to produce fuel? We speak to

Wood Chips and Algae: Biofuels of the Future


WEB EXTRA | Photo Slideshow
(Photography by Josette Herdell/KPBS)

Tom Fudge: The environmental impact of the greenhouse effect, and the world’s limited supply of petroleum, has pushed alternative energy to the top of our nation's agenda. When it comes to gassing up your car, biofuels have gotten a lot of attention. One biofuel is already in widespread use. I'm talking about corn-based ethanol. But while the demand for ethanol has been a boon to corn-state farmers, nobody seriously considers it as the solution to our problem. The problem with making gasoline out of corn hooch is that it requires the use of a lot of fossil fuels, between cultivating the corn and distilling it. In the end, there's little reduction in greenhouse emissions.

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But what if you made ethanol or biodiesel from wood chips or from algae? No question: biofuels do present us with a lot of promise. What we need is the right formula and the innovative technology to make it happen.

Guest

Steve Kay , dean of biological sciences at UCSD .

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