University of California-Merced
A study by Assistant Professor Elliott Campbell of the University of California-Merced, Christopher Field, director of the department of global energy at the Carnegie Institution and David Lobell of Stanford University, found that biomass converted into electricity produced 81 percent more transportation miles and 108 percent more emissions offsets compared to ethanol.
The scientists studied miles per area cropland and greenhouse gas offsets per area cropland. They considered a range of feedstock crops, mainly corn and switch grass. Switch grass is a perennial prairie grass that is resistant to bugs and disease.
They found that converting biomass to electricity rather than ethanol makes the most sense for the issues of transportation and climate. They did not examine the performance of electricity and ethanol such as water consumption, air pollution and economic costs.
Dr. Bruce E. Logan from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Penn State developed a process by which it is possible to generate electricity using microbial fuel cells (MFCs) or to produce hydrogen gas using microbial electrolysis cells (MECs), by using waste water and biomass.
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are a new method of renewable energy recovery: the direct conversion of organic matter to electricity using bacteria. Producing hydrogen gas is possible at by electrohydrogenesis in microbial electrolysis cells (MECs). So, fuel cells produce electricity and electrolysis cells produce hydrogen.
Future Fuel Sources
Green Plains Renewable Energy and BioProcessAlgae have reached an agreement with the Iowa Office of Energy Independence about $2.1 million R&D grant in support of the installation of photobioreactor units at the Green Plains Shenandoah ethanol plant. Water, heat and carbon dioxide will be recycled from the ethanol manufacturing process to support algae production.
The most expense in using algae is taking the water out of it. AlgaeVenture Systems has developed a process for dewatering algae without using a centrifuge. This step will reduce the cost of biofuel from $875 per ton to under $2.00!