Polysaccharide molecules such as cellulose, seen here, are long chains of sugars that are very hard to break apart. Enzymes – proteins that can degrade polysaccharides – have many industrial uses.
Bio-prospecting is the search for useful materials from natural sources. A biologist explains what we can learn from bacteria about breaking down plant material, and how we can use that knowledge.
Papyrus can alleviate pressures on native forest ecosystems.
The capacity of woody biomass to provide the energy requirements for sub-Saharan Africa is declining. Papyrus wetlands are a sustainable source of biomass that holds potential to substitute for wood.
Soybeans and corn are two of the most widely planted crops in the United States and the main feedstocks used to make biofuels.
A new study challenges the longstanding view that biofuels are carbon-neutral, and asserts that in the U.S. to date, they have done more harm to the climate than gasoline.
Ethanol made from corn goes into our gas tanks. Now refiners who pay for the subsidy are complaining of rising costs.
A fight's breaking out over who should pay subsidies for corn ethanol, and it is consumers who may end up paying for any changes.
Millions of tonnes of food go into landfill each year.
Food waste image from www.shutterstock.com
Australians send about 4 million tonnes of food waste to landfill each year – but what if we could use it for other purposes?
Blue Mallee leaves in a plantation. The white dots are oil globules.
Eucalyptus oil is useful for lots of things – what if that list also included carbon-neutral aviation fuel? Chemistry suggests it could.
The economics of making biofuels from algae no longer add up, but a lesson from the oil industry could make them viable.
The airline industry's promised technological solutions have not arrived, and they never will.
A White House proposal to tax crude oil would address the U.S.‘s perennially underfunded highway maintenance program.
Obama's proposal to add $10 tax to crude oil raises the thorny question of whether the U.S. can continue to fund its highway infrastructure with a fuel tax that hasn't changed since 1993.
Before there was E10, in the 1970s there was ‘gasohol,’ another name for gasoline that had been blended with ethanol.
Ted Cruz opposes subsidies for biofuels and still managed to win in ethanol-friendly Iowa. Is corn ethanol starting to lose its political clout?
An excavator clears land for a palm oil plantation in southern Sierra Leone for a Lichtenstein-based a company. Such projects are criticised by some as ‘land grabs’.
International development banks are supposed to ensure adherence to human rights in the projects they fund. Instead, their practices provide fertile ground for human rights abuses.
Just because we've got electric supercars, doesn't mean it's the only way to a greener future.
Proper management of Africa’s savanna regions is crucial for the continent’s climate and food security future.
Africa's savannas provide high potential for farming development but this needs to be done in a smart manner to not worsen climate change.
Traffic is one of the major sources of pollution worldwide, particularly in Asia’s packed cities.
Outdoor air pollution causes 3.3 million premature deaths a year, mainly in Asia. And without policies to cut particulate pollution from traffic, industry and home biofuels, the deaths could double by 2050.
An ancient form of energy: a wood pellet manufacturing facility in upstate New York.
The future of two key energy policies – the EPA's Clean Power Plan and Renewable Fuel Standard – will decide whether bioenergy will continue to grow in US or not.
Peripitus via Wikimedia Commons
Climate change leads to increased likelihood of drought, but strategies for mitigation could make things even worse. How can we resolve the conundrum?
More research can improve how our existing transport infrastructure works.
A research focus on transport can help improve existing infrastructure and guide future developments, and tailor them to Australia's unique needs.
What if jet fuel could be grown sustainably?
What if you could grow biofuels on land nobody wants, using just seawater and sunlight, and produce food at the same time?
The ultimate problem: intensive corn production.
corn harvest via www.shutterstock.com
A law signed into effect last week seeks to reduce fertilizer runoff that causes toxic algae blooms. But to really address the problem requires taking a hard look at how America farms.
Plants use photosynthesis to build molecules and energy they can use. By copying plants, humans can make cleaner fuels.
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…