Global energy demand is projected to grow 50 percent by 2025 while we also face a dwindling supply of fossil fuels and the looming threat of climate change.
Industrial biotechnology unlocks the many benefits of using biomass for energy and biofuels, which help protect the environment and combat global climate change. A move to biobased, renewable, low-carbon or carbon neutral fuels is of central importance to the health of the planet.
How do we reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help stop human-induced climate change while also meeting the fuel demands of the developed world? Here's how:
Use Biobased Fuels
New second-generation advanced biofuels efficiently and cost-effectively convert non-food biomass - crop residues, switchgrass, hybrid wood plants - into ethanol and valuable co-product chemicals, polymers, and materials. Despite the wide abundance of cellulose-containing natural resources estimated to make up half of all organic carbon globally, cellulosic biomass remains a highly undervalued and underused energy asset that could be used to make biofuels. New "drop in" biofuel molecules such as biobutanol and green gasoline can be directly substituted for petroleum-based fuel.
Industrial biotechnology enables critically important business and economic goals to be met within a model of resource and environmental sustainability. Industrial biotechnology is thus both a fundamental force for modern economic growth and a platform for sustainable U.S. and global development. Biorefineries currently are being constructed throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Protect the Environment
First-generation corn-to-ethanol plants reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 52 percent compared to petroleum-based fuels. Ethanol made from cellulosic feedstocks, agricultural residues, or wood forest residues has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 129 percent. Vehicles running on biofuels produce 30 percent fewer tailpipe emissions of nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide.
Today, 189 ethanol biorefineries operate in the U.S.-already exceeding the 141 total petroleum refineries operating in the U.S. Cellulosic biofuels continue to represent a game-changing technology. Never before has society been poised to so effectively harness what have traditionally been regarded as waste products.