Thursday, August 16, 2012

Biofuels still hold promise

Environmental concerns, high oil prices, and limited resources are just some of the factors that will help push biofuel consumption to 135 billion gallons by 2018, according to a new report from Global Industry Analysts. The value of the global biofuels market in 2011 was $83 billion. Global government support in research and development (R&D), production, public policy, and the push to use it in transportation industries is also providing some important underlying support for biofuels growth. Asia is expected to show some real growth potential, increasing by a compound annual growth rate of 28.8% during the reporting period.

Next-generation biofuels, including second and the third generation biofuels, which are currently under development, are predicted to offer more benefits when compared to first generation biofuels. These include cellulosic ethanol, BTL from solid biowaste, and renewable diesel, to name a few. However, these will take a decade before reaching the stage of commercialisation. With the process of conversion of cellulose into sugars for fermentation being quite difficult, research is underway for developing microbes, enzymes, and fungi that could breakdown different types of cellulose into sugars.
One must remember though that all this presupposes a stable climate and good crop. The corn debacle this time in the US is expected to push food prices up and will also affect any objective to derive biofuel. These are where uncertainties in the system will decide the growth, rather than technology alone!

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