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Scientists Tweak Photosynthesis in Pursuit of a Better Biofuel

Green Lifestyle  (tags: business, CO2emissions, conservation, eco-friendly, ecosystems, energy, environment, globalwarming, greenliving, greenproducts, health, humans, recycling, society, sustainable, technology, world )

- 2206 days ago -
By altering how plants turn sunlight into chemical energy, scientists hope to produce biofuels that make economic sense.

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Sue Matheson (79)
Monday June 4, 2012, 3:21 pm

Kit B (276)
Monday June 4, 2012, 3:37 pm
Image: Chris Stein/Getty Images

For years researchers have been trying to figure out the best ways of making plants produce biofuels. But there is a funda­mental problem: photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into stored chemical energy, is highly inefficient. Plants turn only 1 to 3 percent of sunlight into carbohydrates. That is one reason why so much land has to be devoted to growing corn for ethanol, among other bad biofuel ideas. And yet plants also have many advantages: they absorb carbon dioxide at low concen­trations directly from the atmosphere, and each plant cell can repair itself when damaged.

Scientists have begun a new effort to soup up photosynthesis and help humans make greener fuel. The U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, known as ARPA-e, has funded 10 such projects so far, most of which use genetic engineering to tweak a plant’s DNA-based instruction manual for growth, pigments, and the like. The largest grant—more than $6 million—has gone to the University of Florida to alter pine trees to make more turpentine, a potential fuel. Another project, led by Davis, Calif.–based Arcadia Biosciences, is aimed at inducing fast-growing grasses such as switchgrass to produce vegetable oil for the first time in history.

By David Biello - for Scientific American Magazine

Complete article at Visit Site.

Latency much? I posted this article and 2 others almost 3 hours ago.

Carmen S (611)
Tuesday June 5, 2012, 1:00 pm
very interesting, thanks Kit, hope it works, or leads to something that does

John B (185)
Tuesday June 5, 2012, 4:20 pm
Thanks Kit. Read and noted.

Jelica R (144)
Tuesday June 5, 2012, 7:34 pm
I understand that in the post-oil world, we will have to produce bio-fuels (air traffic requires high caloric fuel). However, I would prefer that scientists look elsewhere. Already, many crops are grown for the production of bio-fuels. With a population of 9 billion people by 2050, and a large loss of arable land due to climate change, I wish we do not consider food resources to obtain fuels. Competition between food and fuel for vital resources can not go well. The use of arable soil will not be decided by the poor and hungry, but by the rich and well nourished. We have a saying "Fed doesn't believe the starving". I just wish there were other options.

And, please note that I didn't go into scarce watter resources and those nasty GMOs. Food or fuel is scary enough.
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