Unlike cellulosic ethanol made from foodstuffs and grasses, bio-fuel makers are on their way to creating a commercially viable bio-fuel made from microbial organisms. From Techpulse 360:
Now a third-generation of biofuel makers is showing progress with novel laboratory work. This new wave is a sharp departure from the ways of the past and has interesting potential. It hopes to simplify manufacturing by avoiding the fermentation step of first and second generation companies and convert organisms directly into fuel using just carbon dioxide and sometimes sunlight.
It is an exciting prospect. Not only could these new ventures remake an industry, they could open the door to new ways to store solar energy (in a fuel!) and help remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
Why is this a breakthrough relative to other bio-fuels? Most of it has to do with the ease of implementation within our existing infrastructure and limited burden on current resources.
Renewable sources of energy such as solar are geographically specific and currently, are unable to effectively store the energy on a large scale for that energy to be transported elsewhere. While bio-fuels capture that energy from the sun and transforms into an effective storage vehicle that can be easily implemented with our current infrastructure, bio-fuels created from foodstuffs and grasses put a strain on available land and resources, usually translating into higher prices for food. Combine that with several production steps to create it, and you can see where bio-fuels become economically disadvantaged.
With microbial organisms such as these, the combined inputs of solar power and carbon dioxide add the benefit of reversing our carbon emissions. Add the fact that bio-fuel can already be easily implemented within our infrastructure and you can see why commercially viable bio-fuels from microbial organisms are a breakthrough.