No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

More playing with food

by @ 11:36 on July 30, 2007. Filed under Business, Corn-a-hole.

I picked this one up on the tail end of The Wall Street Journal This Morning (good bumper music on that radio show, even if it is a bit early for most). The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required for the full story) reports on a company called LS9 that claims that it can turn sugar into “bio-crude” by using engineered microbes. The big benefit over turning that sugar into ethanol is that the “bio-crude” does not contain oxygen and thus can enter the existing petroleum infrastructure. Of course, given that there is still a fascination with oxygenated fuels despite mounting evidence that they do no net enviromental good, and that while the infrastructure for corn-a-hole is growing, the overtaxed infrastructure for petroleum is at best stagnant, that’s not exactly as big a positive as one can hope for.

LS9 also claims in a Technology Review (by MIT, yes THAT MIT) article that they’ll soon be able to customize said “bio-crude” into any number of specific hydrocarbons, thus potentially cutting out refineries entirely.

A couple of quick questions:

– Given that they’re still playing with food, how is that going to stem the looming worldwide food crisis as we keep on diverting more and more food to fuel?
– How efficient is it, really?
– Even if it is efficient in the lab, can it be scaled up to production (with or without regard to the first question)?
– Why the focus on food, when we’ve got proven, if not exactly efficient, technology to turn coal into crude and plenty of coal that the envirowhackos don’t want burned?

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