Information about Clean, Renewable Energy.

Switchgrass Gas

George Huber and graduate students examine bio-gasoline
Photo Credit: Ben Barnhart

The holy grail of biofuels has been to find a feedstock that doesn’t compete with food (i.e., corn), produce a product that is compatible with existing infrastructure and has great performance, and to discover a low-impact/energy process to produce the product.

University of Massachusetts (Amherst) BioChemist, Dr. George Huber and his graduate students, Torren Carlson and Tushar Vispute, may have grasped the grail with their switchgrass gas. A process that makes not ethanol, but actual gasoline compounds by combining the cellulose with certain catalysts in the presence of heat to produce the precursors to gasoline and then to run a series of steps that further refines these compounds into gasoline, effectively indistinguishable from the petroleum based fuel used today.

While many years from appearing at the pump, this breakthrough has the possibility of transforming the inefficient and increasingly controversial biofuels segment into something completely different.

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