March 03, 2008

Craig Venter does not make small claims

Craig Venter, billionaire who previously created a company that was a a key part of sequencing the human genome, claims that he think he will have fourth-generation fuels in about 18 months, with CO2 as the fuel stock.

We have modest goals of replacing the whole petrochemical industry and becoming a major source of energy," Venter told an audience.

Simple organisms can be genetically re-engineered to produce vaccines or octane-based fuels as waste, according to Venter.

Biofuel alternatives to oil are third-generation. The next step is life forms that feed on CO2 and give off fuel such as methane gas as waste, according to Venter.

His team is using synthetic chromosomes to modify organisms that already exist, not making new life, he said. Organisms already exist that produce octane, but not in amounts needed to be a fuel supply.

Hat tip to Alfin for the following links on biofuels and bio-ethanol:
Global Research Technologies in Arizona and Sandia Labs in New Mexico and Los Alamos are working on making biofuel from CO2. Los Alamos has the Green Freedom project which also would produce biofuel from CO2 The price of gasoline at the pump would need to be US $4.60 per gallon for the current Green Freedom process to be profitable. The calculation assumes the incorporation of a nuclear reactor to provide electricity for the process.

The Green Freedom process is describe in this pdf

There are several groups working on very inexpensive bioethanol.

ZeaChem and Coskata are promising high volume bio-ethanol at US $1 a gallon, by 2012. New Canadian startup Syntec promises even cheaper bio-ethanol--40 cents a gallon.


Noah Nehm said...

Here's another big thing: People are starting to look to lignin, a aromatic compound found in wood, as the raw material to produce plastics:

Lignin derivatives, molded products using the same and processes for making the same

This leads the way to other uses of lignin, one of the few naturally produced aromatic compounds, perhaps in the petrochemical industry or even the pharaceutical industry.

The upshot: a waste product of the wood fiber industry is now being looked at as a raw material.

Anonymous said...

We already have organisms that feed on CO2, they're called plants. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. This whole manmade global warming scam is getting a bit old.

al fin said...

Lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose are becoming valuable resources suddenly.

In terms of energy balance it is easier to go from ligno-cellulose to biocrude than from CO2 to biocrude.

The Green Freedom CO2 to fuel project requires a nuclear reactor, and does not break even until gasoline is above $4.60 per gallon.

Venter's project has not settled on an energy source yet, just as the key organisms themselves are still on the drawing board. Everything hinges on energy flow economics on the molecular level.

bw said...

Thanks for insiteful comment and for your excellent coverage of biofuels in your blog