Cellulose isn’t new – it’s been around as long as woody plants have – and aerogels aren’t either. But when researchers recently combined the two, they created something wholly new: a flexible, lightweight, super-absorbent sponge that can also be crushed down into a flat piece of magnetic “nanopaper” capable of supporting 400,000 pounds per square inch.
They don't exactly look like the saviors of our energy economy, but that's exactly what some researchers think they could be. Gribbles -- tiny crustacean pests with a knack for digesting wood -- have long been considered a marine parasite for the destruction they cause to wooden hulls and piers. But the enzymes gribbles use in to break wood fibers down into sugars could make them the next biofuels breakthrough.
Forget corn; we'll get fuel from all the other stuff, says DOE
By Michael MoyerPosted 02.15.2008 at 9:32 am 5 Comments
"Cellulosic ethanol technology is a lot closer to reality than a lot of articles would have you think," said Jacques Beaudry-Losique, manager of the Department of Energy's Biomass Program this morning at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting. After some well-publicized studies stated that corn-based biofuels might exacerbate CO2 damage to the environment, focus has shifted to these so-called "second generation" biofuels that use non-food crops such as switchgrass, wood chips or crop residues (e.g. all the parts of the corn plant that are currently wasted after harvest--the stalk, leaves and "cob").