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One Man's Coffee Grounds Are Another's Biodiesel

Waste can be turned into cheap fuel

(Newser) - If lattes seem overpriced now, wait until coffee becomes a precious commodity. An engineering professor spied an opportunity in the layer of oil he found floating in an old cup of coffee one morning. He extracted what was left in some used grounds—about 10%-15% oil by weight—with simple...

Saltwater Crops Could Ease Land Demand

Hardy, saltwater-loving plants could produce biofuels from otherwise unusable land

(Newser) - A worldwide shortage of prime farmland has scientists taking a closer look at plants that thrive on briny water, Wired reports. Plants that can grow in earth too salty for other crops have huge potential for use as biofuel as well as food: One variety produces 1.7 times more...

Biofuels' Green Cred in Dispute

Some say producing more of the greener fuel makes world less green overall

(Newser) - Biofuels, once hailed as a planet-saving alternative to gasoline, are now savaged as much the opposite, the Wall Street Journal reports, with critics charging the “ripple effect” on land use globally actually adds climate-harming carbon. The EPA has signaled plans to modify biofuel emissions measurements to reflect that, but...

Biofuels Not Worth Upward Push on Food Prices: UN

Nations should rethink subsidies: report

(Newser) - While use of biofuels is supposed to combat climate change, the effects of its production on food prices is not worth the emissions they offset, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said today. The FAO called for countries to review production quotas and subsidies that encourage biofuel use in...

India's Effort to Boost Biofuel Encounters Growing Pains

Country aims to feed boom with hardier crops, though it's a tough sell

(Newser) - Just months after India’s finance minister called converting food crops to biofuels “a crime against humanity,” the government has launched a program that aims to get 20% of India’s diesel from plants by 2017, relying heavily on hardy plants that won’t keep rob needed land....

Biofuel Firms' African Land Grab Has Colonial Echoes

Western companies shower nations with promises met with some suspicion

(Newser) - Africa is being seeded for a coming boom in biofuels, as Western companies buy thousands of acres to cultivate vegetable-oil-rich plants like the Jatropha curcas, Der Spiegel reports. In countries like Tanzania, Ghana and Ethiopia, firms are often securing century-long farming rights for nothing but a promise to invest in...

Eco-Waste, Water Plans Aid Kenya's Poor

(Newser) - Sewage and sunlight are offering unexpected aid to the poor of Kenyan slums, the AP reports. Public toilets are recycling waste into gas, while sunlight disinfects water and reduces cases of waterborne illness. Adapted from a plan in Tanzania, the project was funded by international donors to help people struggling...

My Car Runs on ... Cuervo?
My Car Runs on ... Cuervo?

My Car Runs on ... Cuervo?

Mexican scientists push agave-to-ethanol project; resilient plant could far outstrip corn

(Newser) - A small group of Mexican scientists is working to create a massive agave-to-ethanol project that one says could supply the entire US need of 36 billion gallons by 2022, Renewable Energy World reports. The agave, used to make tequila and mescal, is high in sugar, resilient, and needs little cultivation,...

EPA Refuses to Lower Ethanol Quota

Agency denies request by Texas governor

(Newser) - The EPA refused to cut a minimum ethanol quota today, despite critics’ charges that the biofuel mandate is driving high food prices, the New York Times reports. The agency approved Congress’ quota that requires the US use 9 billion gallons of ethanol in gasoline blends this year, denying Texas Gov....

Agricultural Economist Has Growing Concerns

The insanity of farm subsidies just one facet of wide-ranging Q&A with Daniel Sumner

(Newser) - Is there any way to justify US farm subsidies? Agricultural economist Daniel Sumner has a blunt answer: “No.” In an in-depth interview with the New York Times, Sumner takes on a broad range of agricultural topics, explaining the trouble with organic food (it’s too expensive), the problems...

Gas From Garbage Finally Gets Momentum

From sawdust to agricultural waste, scientists drive toward new fuels

(Newser) - After decades of dreaming, schemes to turn waste into fuel are finally getting traction in the US, with some 28 plants in the works and a handful even up and running, the New York Times reports. They consume everything from wood chips to garbage, as once-prohibitively expensive processes become competitive...

Corn-Hungry Texas Calls for Cuts in Biofuel Mandates

Ethanol future in balance as governor pleads for livestock corn

(Newser) - The EPA is considering a proposal from the governor of Texas to slash the amount of ethanol that oil companies are required to blend into gasoline to meet quotas, the New York Times reports. Gov. Rick Perry is calling for the EPA to cut the ethanol mandate in half, from...

Orangutans In Trouble as Forests Shrink

Loggers, plantations bring great ape close to extinction

(Newser) - Illegal loggers and palm oil plantations may make the orangutan the first great ape to become extinct, scientists warn. In Indonesia, a mere 6,600 of the apes remain, while on Malaysia’s Borneo Island, the population has fallen 10% to 49,600, the Telegraph reports.

Biofuel Caused Food Crisis: Secret Report

Findings covered up to avoid US embarrassment

(Newser) - Biofuel production has been the driving force behind the growing food crisis, pushing prices up 75%, according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian. The most detailed research ever conducted on the issue emphatically contradicts the US position that biofuels are responsible for a mere 3% price...

Algae: Lean, Green Biofuel?
 Algae: Lean, Green Biofuel? 

Algae: Lean, Green Biofuel?

Firm says it can produce algae oil at $60 a barrel; US dare not miss its chance, writer says

(Newser) - The steam engine wasn’t invented in the eighteenth century—it was invented in AD 60. But Romans instead stuck to their old standby technology: slaves. Now, we’re in danger of repeating that mistake with biofuels, writes David Ewing Duncan for Portfolio. While Congress is pumping subsidies into corn-based...

Floods Cloud Biofuel Future
 Floods Cloud Biofuel Future 

Floods Cloud Biofuel Future

Ruined Midwest crops spark worries about fuel supplies

(Newser) - The floods that swamped the corn belt last month have raised fresh fears about the future of biofuels, the New York Times reports. The ruined corn crop has sent the price of ethanol soaring, and experts worry that unpredictable weather could lead to future spikes in the price of energy...

Let's Not Kid Ourselves: Oil's Going Higher
Let's Not Kid Ourselves: Oil's Going Higher

Let's Not Kid Ourselves: Oil's Going Higher

Why prices will keep rising, and what that will mean

(Newser) - Yes, $4 a gallon seems steep, but the worst is surely yet to come, Robert J. Samuelson writes in the Washington Post. Gas is on pace to rise to $7 a gallon by 2012, with oil rising to $225 a barrel, according to one economist. Oil-rich nations are acting as...

Next Resource in Crisis: Water
 Next Resource in Crisis: Water 

Next Resource in Crisis: Water

H2O is no longer 'cheap and unlimited,' says scientist

(Newser) - While economists and world leaders fret about the global food crisis, there is another emergency that is just as urgent: the shortage of water, writes British scientist Fred Pearce in Yale Environment 360. No longer is water "a cheap and unlimited resource," and with two-thirds of water extracted...

Food vs. Fuel Battle Flares at UN Summit

Egypt's Mubarak asks, should we be feeding people or cars?

(Newser) - The battle over biofuels is raging at the UN’s food summit in Rome, with nations bitterly divided over whether growing corn and sugar cane for ethanol production is pushing food prices up and helping create disastrous global food shortages. On one side: Food experts who call diversion of crops...

Restaurants' Used Grease Draws Thieves

Once scorned, it's 'become gold'; can be turned into biodiesel

(Newser) - For decades restaurants have thrown away their used cooking grease without a second thought; now, they’re trying to protect it from thieves. Almost anyone can convert the yellow grease into cheap biodiesel using kits sold on the internet, and restaurant oil bins have become go-to destinations for everyone from...

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