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Could This Ancient Tree Be a Renewable Energy Source?

Pongamia trees grow where citrus once flourished in Florida

(Newser) - An ancient tree from India is now thriving in groves where citrus trees once flourished in Florida, and could help provide the nation with renewable energy, the AP reports. As large parts of the Sunshine State's once-famous citrus industry have all but dried up over the past two decades...

Why Thieves Are Going After Grease
Why Thieves Are
Going After Grease

Why Thieves Are Going After Grease

'It’s almost like a pawn shop or scrap-metal business'

(Newser) - Do you want grease with that? Apparently thieves do, as the leftover gunk that restaurants use to fry your food and then accumulate in their kitchens has become a serious commodity. As US refiners are processing record amounts of grease to meet government mandates for renewable fuels—3.84 million...

Branches, Bound for Burn Pile, Instead Power Alaska Air Flight

Pretty cool

(Newser) - On Monday, an Alaska Airlines jet flew into the history books as the first commercial flight to use a "renewable, alternative jet fuel made from forest residuals," as KOMO News puts it. In other words: Tree limbs and branches, the byproducts of the timber harvest that typically would...

Biofuel Demand Takes Big Toll on US Prairies
Biofuel Demand Takes
Big Toll on US Prairies
study says

Biofuel Demand Takes Big Toll on US Prairies

Grasslands destroyed at fastest rate since 1930s, says study

(Newser) - The push for biofuels—spurred by ethanol mandates and government subsidies—is taking a serious toll on the American landscape, a study finds. Grasslands are being plowed up faster than at any time since the 1930s, say researchers from South Dakota State University, with 1.3 million acres turned into...

Ethanol's Long Joyride Runs Out of Gas

Fuel additive faces first decline in 15 years

(Newser) - After 15 years of growth, ethanol production will fall this year and be flat next year, shocking an industry that has only known boom times for many years, reports the Wall Street Journal . Driven by government mandates, production of the corn-based fuel additive tripled from 2005 to 2011, reaching nearly...

Scientists Make Seaweed-Fuel Breakthrough

Next hurdle: bringing it to market

(Newser) - Algae-based fuel is a step closer to reality. Scientists in California have genetically modified a microbe so that it can convert seaweed into biofuel, the Guardian reports. "Natural seaweed species grow very fast—10 times faster than normal plants—and are full of sugars, but it has been very...

Alaska Airlines Begins Biofuel Flights

But it's costing a fortune

(Newser) - Alaska Airlines’ first biofuel-powered flights took off yesterday, kicking off an expensive trial program designed to improve the airline’s environmental footprint. Passengers on the first two flights—which were to DC and Portland, respectively—received a “Welcome to Greener Skies” flier explaining the program, the Anchorage Daily News...

Biotech Firm Says It Can Grow Diesel

 Biotech Firm Says 
 It Can Grow Diesel 

Biotech Firm Says It Can Grow Diesel

Joule Unlimited's organism absorbs sunlight, carbon dioxide, secretes fuel

(Newser) - A Massachusetts biotech company says it has created an organism capable of radically transforming the energy business—and the world. Joule Unlimited claims its genetically-engineered organism can create diesel fuel or ethanol using only the same ingredients grass needs to grow: sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. Skeptics, however, doubt whether...

Al Gore: I Was Wrong About Corn-Based Ethanol

Corn-based fuel does little to help environment, he admits

(Newser) - Al Gore regrets supporting subsidies for corn-based ethanol when he was in office, he revealed during a speech in Athens yesterday, confessing that he’d done it more to bolster his presidential ambitions than to help the planet. “First generation ethanol I think was a mistake,” Gore said,...

Scots Invent Boozy Biofuel
 Scots Invent Boozy Biofuel 

Scots Invent Boozy Biofuel

Whisky may be the drink to power your drive

(Newser) - Scottish researchers have found a way to turn whisky waste into fuel. A team from Edinburgh Napier University combined two common whisky by-products—'pot ale' and 'draff'—to create a clean fuel that yields 30% more output power than ethanol, reports the BBC . The group hopes, eventually, to make the...

Biofuel Laws Make No Sense: Scientists

Kyoto Protocols actually encourage harming the environment

(Newser) - Biofuel laws around the world actually encourage harming the environment, prominent scientists argue in the latest issue of Science. Under the Kyoto Treaty, in laws throughout Europe, and in the bill that passed the US House, biofuels count as carbon-neutral, on the theory that the plants the fuel is made...

Biofuel Boom Runs Out of Gas
 Biofuel Boom Runs Out of Gas 

Biofuel Boom Runs Out of Gas

(Newser) - Once considered a win-win for the environment and energy independence, America’s biofuel industry is sputtering to a halt, the Wall Street Journal reports. Thanks to the recession, lower oil prices, and government delays, two-thirds of American biodiesel refineries—dozens of plants—are idle, and companies across the country are...

Exxon to Invest $600M in Algae-Based Fuel

Will partner with famed genome expert Craig Venter

(Newser) - Exxon Mobil, the biggest oil company in the world, will invest $600 million in turning algae into fuel, the New York Times reports. Known for blowing off concerns about global warming and dismissing biofuels—its CEO famously called ethanol “moonshine”—Exxon Mobil has in fact been researching alternative...

EPA Eyes Crackdown on Not-So-Green Biofuels

Turns out, it's greener to burn plants than to make ethanol

(Newser) - Plants consume carbon dioxide, so growing corn to produce ethanol should be at worst a zero-sum game, emissions-wise, right? Wrong, says the EPA. There's another factor involved: Turning food crops into fuel drives up their prices, which raises demand for farmland worldwide. In places like Brazil, that means chopping down...

Ammonia + Corn = Energy Independence

(Newser) - Feeding cows parts of corn plants that farmers currently discard could eventually lead to American energy independence, Wired reports. An ammonia treatment applied to corn “stover” could make it palatable to cattle, freeing up more land for the production of ethanol, a Michigan State researcher says. That could, in...

Oil Industry Squeezed as US Demand Tanks

(Newser) - Big oil execs, analysts, and government sources say a century-old American tradition is waning: after years of increasing oil consumption, US guzzling has peaked, they believe. Last year, demand plunged 7.1% for gas, diesel, and jet fuel—the biggest drop since 1950, when dependable records began. And major changes...

The Next Great Biofuel: Pond Scum
The Next Great Biofuel:
Pond Scum

The Next Great Biofuel: Pond Scum

(Newser) - It’s as slimy as it is unassuming, but algae could be the stuff the next great biofuel is made of. The simple organisms convert solar energy into an oily material that could, theoretically, be processed into a biofuel to power a car. But there are untold varieties of algae...

Ethanol on Tap From Beer Dregs

Brewer Sierra Nevada gets in on plan to produce alternative fuel

(Newser) - Brewer Sierra Nevada is part of an effort to turn byproducts of the beer-making process into usable, alternative fuel, CNET reports. E-Fuel sells a $10,000 portable ethanol refinery that the brewer will feed with its yearly output of 1.6 million gallons of “bottom of the barrel” waste....

E. Coli Biofuel Can Go Right in the Tank

(Newser) - Scientists have genetically engineered the E. coli bacteria to produce a carbon-rich alcohol molecule equivalent in energy to gasoline, Popular Mechanics reports. The “long-chain” alcohol does not occur in nature, but with six to eight atoms of carbon, it is far more efficient than ethanol, which has only two....

Science Promises Cleaner Biofuels; Greens Wary
Science Promises Cleaner Biofuels; Greens Wary

Science Promises Cleaner Biofuels; Greens Wary

'Understanding the risks' of genetically engineered microbes is essential, some say

(Newser) - The future of alternative energy may lie with genetically engineered microbes that can efficiently convert sugar, or even sewage, into fuel, Yale Environment 360 reports. Small biotechs are using the tools of “synthetic biology” to create organisms that produce a range of carbon fuels without the extra energy expended...

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