Power from plants Scientists are studying biofuels from the field to the pump to make each
step more efficient and environmentally
friendly. Here’s a typical blueprint for
Producing biofuels and burning them
in an engine does create carbon
dioxide emissions, but ideally those
emissions are less than what is
consumed by plants during photosynthesis.
On the farm
Plants thrive on sunshine and carbon diox-ide. To minimize environmental impact, bio-fuel scientists are studying plants that don’t
require irrigation or fertilizer.
Conversion to fuel
After harvesting, plants are pretreated to
soften them up with ammonia, water or dilute
acids. Enzymes attack the exposed cellulose,
breaking it down into sugars that can be fermented by microbes into ethanol.