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Cross-posted from the Department of Energy blog.
Today, the Department announced that a research team at our BioEnergy Science Center achieved yet another advance in the drive toward next generation biofuels: using a microbe to convert plant matter directly into isobutanol. Isobutanol can be burned in regular car engines with a heat value higher than ethanol and similar to gasoline. This is part of a broad portfolio of work the Department is doing to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil and create new economic opportunities for rural America.
This announcement is yet another sign of the rapid progress we are making in developing the next generation of biofuels that can help reduce our oil dependence. This is a perfect example of the promising opportunity we have to create a major new industry based on bio-material such as wheat and rice straw, corn stover, lumber wastes, and plants specifically developed for bio-fuel production that require far less fertilizer and other energy inputs. But we must continue with an aggressive research and development effort.
America's oil dependence -- which leaves hardworking families at the mercy of global oil markets -- won't be solved overnight. But the remarkable advance of science and biotechnology in the past decade puts us on the precipice of a revolution in biofuels. In fact, biotechnologies, and the biological sciences that provide the underlying foundation, are some of the most rapidly developing areas in science and technology today - and the United States is leading the way. In the coming years, we can expect dramatic breakthroughs that will allow us to produce the clean energy we need right here at home. We need to act aggressively to seize this opportunity and win the future.
Learn more from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Steven Chu is the Secretary of Energy.