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Plants use photosynthesis to build molecules and energy they can use. By copying plants, humans can make cleaner fuels. Ranjit Bhatnagar/Flickr

To shift away from fossil fuels, we need to copy plants

Most of the energy that fuels our lives comes from plants. Whether it is a fossil fuel that was formed hundreds of millions of years ago or the food we eat, all carbon-borne energy has its ultimate origins…

Vibrations enhance spinach photosynthesis

Molecular vibrations play an important part in enhancing photosynthesis, researchers from the University of Michigan have…
CSIRO is contending with a A$111 million hit to its budget over four years. Bidgee/Wikimedia Commons

CSIRO risks backing the wrong horse as it reacts to budget cuts

What happens to CSIRO when the federal government decides to strip away A$111 million over four years from its A$733 million annual contribution to the organisation’s budget? We are beginning to find out…
From tree to biofuel in few steps. University of Wisconsin-Madison

Green combination helps turn wood into biofuels

Turning wood and agricultural waste into biofuels is one step closer to being a truly green process, according to a recently published study in the journal Science. James Dumesic of the University of Wisconsin-Madison…
Touch of salt needed, I think. Heng Sinith/AP

Improving cookstoves will help save lives - and the planet

Around three billion people in the world, largely in developing countries, rely on fuels like wood and charcoal for cooking and heating in the home. But burning these biomass fuels, not least in confined…
Show me the green: Tetraselmis suecica algae viewed under a confocal microscope. Emily Roberts/Swansea University

The next ‘black gold’ could be green

Leave a glass with nutrient-rich pond water on a sunny window sill and within a day or two it will have turned a very vibrant, verdant green. This apparent alchemy has less to do with chemistry and more…
Algal genes are introduced into tobacco cells that grow into plants. Peggy Lemaux/UC Berkeley

Tobacco re-imagined as a future fuel source

Tobacco doesn’t immediately conjure up ideas of fuel for cars and planes. But that’s precisely what a three-year, $4.8m project from the US Department of Energy’s ARPA-E PETRO (Plants Engineered to Replace…
Wheat-free: fields full of quick-growing miscanthus grass, an energy-rich biofuel. Andrew Parsons/PA

Food first, fuel second is the UN’s message on biofuels

Critics of the conversion of plants into biofuel have long argued that it is an issue of food versus fuel‎, and a recent UN report gives some weight to their argument. Since the amount of maize needed…
Hartmut Michel discussing the future of energy production and storage. 63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Nobel laureate: the world is waking up to biofuel shortcomings

Hartmut Michel won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1988 “for the determination of the structure of a photosynthetic reaction centre”, which helped reveal details of one of nature’s most useful processes…
The engineered E.coli produced a diesel-style fuel, the researchers said. http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdepaz

Scientists grow fuel from E.coli tummy bug

A diesel-style fuel has been created from a modified version of the Escherichia coli bacteria, the tummy bug that causes…
Algae synthesisers – a new crop for biofuels, without the need for land. Kirsten Heimann

Explainer: what are algal biofuels?

The problem we face with fossil fuels being ultimately a finite resource has exposed our need for renewable fuels. But research is underway on new and more environmentally-savvy ways to fuel our growing…
Canola is harvested on a property near Wallendbeen NSW. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Explainer: what are biofuels?

Since the beginning of civilisation, humans have depended on organic materials - or “biomass” - for cooking and heat. Many developing countries in Asia and Africa still do. Biofuel or bioenergy is the…

Plant-eating algae a hope for biofuel

Algae can get energy from other plants, researchers from Bielefeld University have found. Conventional wisdom held that plants…

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