- [The Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI)]: Why Cellulosic Biofuels?
Ethanol is currently the transportation biofuel of choice worldwide, derived primarily from corn and sugarcane. The EBI believes that food and fuel shouldn’t be an either-or proposition, so it is concentrating on the sugar-rich properties of non-edible plants, like grasses, trees, and energy cane. What is not simple is trying to undo what nature has perfected over millions of years – deconstructing the rigid and resistant parts of the plant’s infrastructure and breaking down cellulose and hemicellulose, the primary components of plant cells, into their component parts. Remove the complex carbohydrates, and then rearrange the elements to form a combustible fluid that will run our cars and light-duty trucks.
The challenge doesn’t stop there. The EBI wants to know what social, economic and environmental impacts such practices will have on a community, and a nation. Data collection and modeling are being used to compile a complete analysis of the entire life cycle of a biofuel, from field to tank. It’s not enough to make a biofuel; one has to make and use it responsibly. Of the entire EBI investment in bioenergy research, 20 percent is devoted to biofuels’ implications on society and the environment. And that sets this institute apart from all comparable centers in the field.
The Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), the largest public-private partnership of its kind in the world, was created to apply advanced biological knowledge to the area of bioenergy development.
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