Biofuels try to snap out of dormant phase

[USA] Nearly 10 years ago, then-President George W. Bush promised to fund research in “cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn but from wood chips and stalks or switchgrass.”

But that promise of biofuels made from non-food products is still a long way off. A federal mandate, created during the Bush administration, to increase the share of biofuels in the gasoline supply is facing criticism on Capitol Hill and implementation challenges within the Obama administration. Meanwhile, low oil prices are making all biofuels less cost-competitive, especially fuels from novel feedstocks like algae.

Here’s an overview of biofuel output in recent years, as well as snapshots of feedstocks used for biofuels and how their prospects look.



Photo: Algae has been demonstrated to work as a biofuel but isn’t being commercially produced yet. PHOTO: DAVID MAUNG/BLOOMBERG NEWS

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