Researchers at Mascoma Corp in Lebanon are on the cutting edge when it comes to ethanol production. The biofuel can be used to power cars with little impact on the environment.
"Photosynthesis begins by removing CO2 from the atmosphere, when you make a fuel, you return the same C02. And also the aspect that as long as the sun is shining, we can keep making it," said Lee Lynd, a professor at Dartmouth and co-founder of the Mascoma Corp.
Currently, using corn or sugar cane is the most cost effective way to make ethanol. But some say using corn to make the biofuel is depleting the world's food supply and driving up prices. Trees and other non-edible plants, like grass, can also produce ethanol, but it's more expensive-- until now.
"In many ways it is a dream come true," Lynd said.
Lynd and other researchers Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering have discovered a cheaper way to make ethanol from "woody plants" using a genetically modified bacterium. That means cars could eventually be powered by tall pines and other abundant plants.
"If your raw material was three times as expensive as oil that would be a big problem. But the fact that the raw material is-- I got to check because the price of oil is changing-- about 20 percent the price of oil, that gives you a lot of room to move in terms of lowering the processing costs," Lynd explained.
But Lynd says that when it comes to cutting emissions, people will still need to drive less or buy cars that get better gas mileage.
"I do not think it is physically possible to replace all the energy we use now, or all the energy we can expect to use if you extrapolate current trends, by renewable sources and only pull the supply level. I think you have to pull the demand lever as well," he said.
Lynd says that this is only the first step. More tests need to be done before the product hits the commercial market. But he says that if all goes well, large-scale production could begin in a year's time.
Sunday, May 19 2013 12:06 AM EDT2013-05-19 04:06:03 GMT
Vermont State Police have charged 22-year-old Adam Page of Newport for stealing the Newport City Elementary School bus, which has now been declared totaled. A stolen dog was also recovered in the busMore >>
State Police say he is also being charged with the theft of two other vehicles and a woman's dog.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 11:45 PM EDT2013-05-19 03:45:20 GMT
State police are looking for the person responsible for stealing a school bus and taking it for a joyride in northern Vermont. Troopers say the 2014-model bus belonging Newport City Elementary SchoolMore >>
Police say the school bus belonging to the Newport City Elementary School was taken for a joy ride Friday night.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 10:10 PM EDT2013-05-19 02:10:53 GMT
A fatal accident in Lyndon Saturday. It happened around 2:30 Saturday afternoon on Route 122. Police say 76-year-old Gerda Blaszczyk of St. Johnsbury swerved to avoid an animal. Her car travelled up anMore >>
Police say the driver swerved to avoid an animal.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 8:03 PM EDT2013-05-19 00:03:45 GMT
Senator Bernie Sanders is touring the state this weekend with a special guest. Sanders and the Danish Ambassabdor to the United States are hosting town hall meetings in Burlington, Brattleboro and Montpelier. TheMore >>
Sanders and the Danish Ambassabdor to the United States are hosting town hall meetings.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:56 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:56:03 GMT
Saturday marked a new beginning for Castleton State College students. "Were all gathered here, getting fired up, having a good time," explained Castleton graduate, David Carrier. The 500 graduates hadMore >>
It's graduation day for the class of 20-13 at Castleton State College. And just for the occasion, the college invited back an alumnus with a strong connection to the school.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:51 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:51:14 GMT
Young bikers were learning the rules of the road in South Burlington Saturday. Kids who brought their bikes to the Dorset St. Park received free checks for their brakes, chains, and tires. Helmets alsoMore >>
and much more... making sure kids are safe before they hit the roads this summer.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:49 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:49:26 GMT
On a sun-soaked Saturday, Karen Trayah and her dogs enjoyed the sights, sounds, and of course smells of a festival for fidos. "It's called Woofstock, however, this is our 1st year doing it here at theMore >>
Making sure our furry friends have a place to call home.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 7:54 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:54:10 GMT
The door to room 118 at the Liberty Inn and Suites is gone-- busted by police during an early morning drug raid. They say tenant Julie Herron, 41, was selling heroin out her room. She was living thereMore >>
A South Burlington drug bust exposed new abuses of the state's homeless voucher program. A couple was arrested for selling heroin out of their motel room, and police say the state was footing the bill for their stay.More >>