Top Science of 2013
Improved biofuel methods: may be greener, cheaper, powerful
We’ve improved methods to turn abundant plant waste into valuable fuel. Efficiently extracting the plant matter has stumped others.
A plant’s energy is tightly bound within hardy plant walls, and conventional methods to extract that energy are environmentally and economically unfriendly. Researchers unraveled these tightly packed nanofibers more efficiently into soluble sugars.
We also improved chemical methods to access the energy under relatively mild, energy-efficient conditions, perfecting a method for “direct-ring opening” of the furan rings; Opening these rings is a necessary step in the production of energy-dense fuels.