General Motors is getting into biofuels by backing Coskata to produce a combined pyrolysis and fermentation process (with gm bacteria that convert carbon monoxide and hydrogen to ethanol) from a wide range of waste materials.
Coskata says its process:
has the potential to yield over 100 gallons of ethanol per ton of dry carbonaceous input material, reducing both operational and capital costs. Coskata's exclusively licensed separation technology dramatically improves the separations and recovery component of ethanol production, reducing the required energy by as much as 50%.
Coskata estimates that it can produce the fuel at less than $1/gal.
Now this is interesting stuff, given the amount of waste that the world produces. In the UK we produce 11m tonne potentially suitable waste for this type of process, this could translate to around 1100 m (US gal) ethanol, or about 20% of the US production from corn in 2006.