Yesterday Samuel Bodeman, the Secretary of the Department of Energy, announced that the DOE will spend $375 million to fund three new research centers dedicated to the problem of creating a commercially viable supply of biofuel in the U.S.
The challenge is to create fuels like cellulosic ethanol, which use as raw materials either agricultural waste or energy-efficient feedstocks like switchgrass, and produce them in sufficient quantities and at a low enough price to compete effectively with petroleum. Will it work? Probably. The PPX now says there’s a 54 percent chance that we’ll achieve Bush’s initiative to produce 20 percent of the U.S.’s fuel supply—about 35 billion gallons—by 2017.—Michael Moyer