Trees could be the biofuel of the future, according to this analysts report from Jeffries & Company which examines clean technology and industrial biotech following the BIO's Industrial Biotechnology conference in the US recently.
Key quotes for me are
Unlike prior conferences, this conference was marked by a significant presence of companies speaking directly to the potential to use forests, rather than dedicated energy crops, as cellulosic feedstocks.
Several speakers highlighted the difficulty involved in cellulosic ethanol enzyme cocktails (more than 200 different enzymes involved in reducing biomass);
We know that route is tricky, and the paper notes:
Several new technologies were discussed, included a combination pyrolysis/fermentation process that feeds the orgnanisms syngas (demo plant starts up April 2009) and one that used a catalytic process to convert C5 and C6 sugars into hydrocarbons, including aromatics, rather than ethanol.