Biofuel boost

Environmental controversy surrounds the use of biofuels as a means to mitigate climate change and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Now, $1million is to be pumped into a research project at the University of Colorado at Boulder to develop solar-thermal biomass-to-gas conversion technology. Alan Weimer's team in the chemical and biological engineering department will benefit from the three-year grant and hope, in that time, to find a way to use concentrated sunlight to heat biomass like grass, sorghum, corn stalks and leaves, wood waste, and algae to more than 1000 Celsius for fractions of a second. This will generate "syngas" - a mixture of carbon oxides and hydrogen - that can be readily turned into hydrogen or liquid fuels.