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August 20th, 2008
A method of making potentially cheap ethanol fuel out of garbage and other waste materials by deploying a combination of modern and old technologies is under development by government and university researchers.
The process involves the use of nanotechnology and gasification to convert carbon-based materials into a product called synthesis gas, or syngas, which in turn can be made into ethanol.
Developing new ways of producing biofuels such as ethanol is urgent business as the country and world scout for alternatives to fossil fuels.
For now, ethanol is made chiefly by fermenting corn, diverting the valuable commodity from serving as food for people and livestock.
"The great thing about using syngas to produce ethanol is that it expands the kinds of materials that can be converted into fuels," said Victor Lin, director of the Chemical and Biological Science Program at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory."
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