TreeHugger Picks: Far-Out Fuels for the Future

Inspired by today's earlier post about deriving fuel from salt water, here are some of our picks for other far-out fuels for the future.

1) If you're still wondering about the relative benefits of ethanol, biodiesel, straight veggie oil and other alternative fuels, take a ride on the alternative fuel bus and get up to speed in a hurry with Freedom Fuels, a downloadable vid that'll help you catch up.

2) From the "Is there anything poo can't do?" file: a team of scientists from Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is working with a coalition of poultry growers to test a transportable unit that would convert poultry litter -- a mixture of manure, feathers, bedding and spilled feed -- into bio-oil (or pyrodiesel), producing gas and fertilizer.

3) Switchgrass got some good press awhile back, but its days at the top of the ethanol-future heap might be numbered, thanks to polycultures of multiple grass, prairie and wildflower species. We thought it might have been a case of bait and switchgrass, anyway...another food fight, and wood pellets, after the jump.

4) Corn prices are soaring as it is increasingly used for both food and fuel, prompting a food fight on an enormous scale. Ethanol has raised the incomes of farmers and given new hope to flagging rural economies. But the reliance on corn to produce ethanol in the United States has drawn concerns from some economists, who question whether the drive to corn-based fuel will push up the prices of livestock and retail prices of meat, poultry and dairy products.

5) The notion of using wood as a source of energy is hardly a new or revolutionary one, but it's good enough to warrant another mention. While scientists have long held the ability of deriving oils from wood, they had until now not found a cost-effective way of processing it into a form that could be used in engines. To resolve this issue, researchers at University of Georgia came up with a new chemical process to derive that maximum energy from the biomass.

Tags: Alternative Fuels | Biodiesel | Biomass | Ethanol | TreeHugger Picks