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Biomass an option over corn ethanol

Jennifer Collins Feb 18, 2010


Steve Chiotakis: Crude is still much in demand. There’s been a leveling off, though, in developed countries such as the United States. It’s not just the recession — it also has to do with cleaner alternatives. And as Marketplace’s Jennifer Collins reports from the Sustainability Desk, one of those products just got a lot cheaper.

Jennifer Collins: The product is a type of ethanol. Not energy-intensive corn ethanol that uses lots of land and water.

Announcer: The same process that converts corn into ethanol works with biomass, which is just another name for the waste from fields and forests.

Biomass ethanol is less energy-intensive, but it requires an expensive enzyme to produce. Now biotech company Novozymes has developed an cheaper enzyme that can make biomass ethanol for less than $2 a gallon.

Cynthia Bryant is with Novozymes:

Cynthia Bryant: So really the ultimate goal is to be competitive with gasoline.

Bryant says this new enzyme brings biomass ethanol closer to that goal.

Jeremy Martin is with the Union of Concerned Scientists:

Jeremy Martin: In the next few years, when we see the first facilities coming online, that’s when the cost-effectiveness of this technology will be tested.

And, he says, that’s when we’ll see if biomass ethanol shows up at the pump.

I’m Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

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