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Articles on Biofuels

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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…
Sunlight falls equally on leaves and solar panels, but which does the best job of turning it into useful renewable energy? kincuri/Flickr

For efficient energy, do you want solar panels or biofuels?

About 80% of the world’s total energy consumption is derived from fossil fuels, with only 12.5% from renewable resources. Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources derived from sunlight - such…
Malaysia’s biofuel policies — which will be delivered by large multinational corporations — are contributing to a global food crisis. Rainforest Action Network/Flikr

Malaysia’s sustainability agenda reignites debate over food versus fuel

According to their 2005 Energy Policy Act, the US was supposed to have reached a 7.5% target for renewable fuel by 2012. While this may be good for the environment, there is growing concern that national…
The rains came too late for these Texas wheat crops, which are stunted and thin. But there’s more to rising food prices than bad weather. Flickr/agrilifetoday

Crops hit by drought and biofuel policy: another food price crisis?

Not so long ago, things were looking good. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) had announced on the 5th of July that the FAO food price index had been falling for the third consecutive month…
Driving away from fossil fuels: fields of rapeseed which is used in biofuels, many of which are under development in Australia and abroad. Flickr/roger g1

Growing the grunt: developing green biofuels for Australia

In 300 BC, the Syrian city of Antioch had public street lighting fuelled by olive oil. At the 1900 Paris World Fair, German inventor Rudolph Diesel demonstrated his engine powered by peanut oil. Biofuels…

Ethanol too costly for American consumers

Not enough people are willing to purchase ethanol to justify a US government mandate, making it a costly way to reduce government…
There are dark days ahead for Australian forests if renewable energy plan gets the nod. jwbenwell/Flickr

Oakeshott’s call for wood-powered electricity means more logging

We are poised at a pivotal moment for native forests, the wood products industry and climate change. Australia is moving away from a damaging native forestry industry - and a damaging conflict over its…

Bubbles build better biofuels

Thanks to microbubble technology, harvesting algae for use as a biofuel could become easier and more affordable. The technique…

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