After decades of dreaming, schemes to turn waste into fuel are finally getting traction in the US, with some 28 plants in the works and a handful even up and running, the New York Times reports. They consume everything from wood chips to garbage, as once-prohibitively expensive processes become competitive with $4-a-gallon gasoline. “American innovation is going to come up with the solution,” one researcher tells the Times.
In the frenzy to be first to market, small start-ups are now getting a boost from corporate giants (Honeywell, Dupont, General Motors, Shell, BP) newly interested in acquiring stakes. There are many hurdles, but the government is giving the nascent industry a big push, as studies tout its potential to replace half the gasoline used in the US. Legislation passed last year mandates the use of 36 billion gallons of biofuels a year by 2022, less than half of it from corn ethanol.