DSM starts DOE funded biofuels project

DSM an international chemicals company based in the Netherlands says it is launching a project funded by the DOE into biofuels through a “multimillion dollar cooperative funding agreement with the US Department of Energy to underwrite a portion of research and development costs aimed at enabling “second generation” biofuels from non-food feedstocks.

This has to be good news in the drive to move the US from ethanol made from edible corn towards potentially more sustainable technologies.

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2 Responses to DSM starts DOE funded biofuels project

  1. Hank Sims 22 October, 2008 at 1:57 pm #

    I have serious concerns about the energy policies of and proposed for the United States.

    The media and multiple politicians are proposing plans to make the U.S. energy independent in 10 years.

    These plans depend on several technologies including Bio-fuels, Hydrogen fuels and hybrid vehicles.

    My concern is whether these technologies do, in fact, work toward that end.

    Specifically, my friends; farmers and engineers feel that bio-fuels are not efficient. We feel that more BTUs of energy are consumed in the production of bio-fuels than are produced. That is, it takes more energy to plant, till and harvest corn combined with the energy required to process the corn into fuel, than is produced. And, much of the energy required in this production is petroleum. We fear this effort is, in fact, counterproductive.

    I have read much about the benefits of ethanol; reduced emissions,better habitat for wildlife, slower global warming, etc. In only one place did I find a statement on energy efficiency. That said the net output of ethanol vice petroleum was -29%.
    Missouri has been producing ethanol for years. It is economical only because of government subsidies.

    I have noticed that neither presidential candidate uses ethanol in discussions of energy independance.
    Support for these programs would be greatly enhanced if those of us with concerns are satisfied that the efforts are efficient and contribute to our energy independence.

    Or, we should eliminate ethanol production and save tax dollars.

    There are similar concerns about cost of producing hydrogen and the total costs of hybrid engines.

  2. Simon Robinson 23 October, 2008 at 9:50 am #

    HI Hank,

    Thanks for commenting. There probably is a place for ethanol from corn as a biofuel, but I’d suggest that it would be during times of depressed prices for eating corn. Effectively as a much more strategic supplemental fuel. This might be a useful approach to farm subsidies in the US, and would provide an outlet for corn rather than it being dumped on the world market, screwing the economics of small farmers in developing countries. You are right to be concerned about economy. In my opinion one of the fundamental problems with the US approach to biofuel is that conventionally fuelled vehicles are inefficient. The average fuel efficiency of all road vehicles is 20mpg in the US. Using corn-based biofuel in this situation is not wise.
    You are right there are big problems with the hydrogen economy, mostly around distribution, the costs of installing a new hydrogen distribution network should not be underestimated. The second largest problem is creating the stuff generally that involves electricity which unless it is produced using nuclear power (with its own problems) will generate carbon dioxide…

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