A group of researchers from the University of Georgia are working on technology to get more ethanol from non-food sources, such as biomass.
This story from ChemicalOnline.com says they’re finding a way to make ethanol out of bermuda grass, switch grass, napier grass and even lawn clippings cleaner than previous biomass ethanol efforts:
“Producing ethanol from renewable biomass sources such as grasses is desirable because they are potentially available in large quantities,” said Joy Peterson, professor of microbiology and chair of UGA’s Bioenergy Task Force. “Optimizing the breakdown of the plant fibers is critical to production of liquid transportation fuel via fermentation.” Peterson developed the new technology with former UGA microbiology student Sarah Kate Brandon, and Mark Eiteman, professor of biological and agricultural engineering.
The new technology features a fast, mild, acid-free pretreatment process that increases by at least 10 times the amount of simple sugars released from inexpensive biomass for conversion to ethanol. The technology effectively eliminates the use of expensive and environmentally unsafe chemicals currently used to pretreat biomass.
The article goes on to point out that making ethanol from non-food sources not only relieves any pressure from the food supply, but it also makes areas not-as-friendly to agriculture potential fields for the green fuel.