Caresse Jackman

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Video: Professors Discuss What’s Next For the Bio-Fuel Industry

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- As the country and the world continues efforts for clean air and bio-fuels, ethanol’s becoming a major focus for the U.S. Government.

UC Berkeley professor Richard Muller travels the country and spoke to Mississippi State students about why the nation’s homegrown corn approach is the wrong one.

“In terms of global warming it breaks even when you add fertilizer, and the machinery that you need to make corn ethanol you really don’t help global warming.The whole approach of using biomass and doing it to make gasoline and diesel fuel rather than using it to make ethanol, I think is a very smart approach and not the central approach of the government so I think progress could be a lot faster if the approach being suggested here at Mississippi State were to become a more central role,” said Muller.

Mississippi State is one of the leading Universities in the nation for alternative bio-fuel research. They focus on growing crops and producing fuel. They’ve also developed a waste water treatment approach.

“We have a technology that’s being developed around municipal waste water treatment plants that we can make bio diesel out of municipal waste water treatment. So there’s going to be a whole wealth of portfolios that we can derive fuels from,” said Dr. French.

Right now, Kior uses yellow pine wood chips and turns them into gasoline and diesel. Early troubles slowed production, but in the last two months, the company’s reached consecutive and steady production. Dr. French believes Kior’s alternative will turn out well in the long run.

” I think it has a great potential to be effective. Those that do research in the bio-fuel game are really pulling for Kior. And they really have the people that I’ve met from there are top notch people and I think that Kior has put a lot of decent and very talented people to make that happen,” said Dr. French.

Both French and Muller say the public attention on global warming and alternative fuels are headed in the right direction.

“The informed public plays an important role in government decision. So knowing abut the relative role of this kind of bio-fuel versus the corn ethanol, recognizing that this is not only a good alternative, but it’s the right alternative, I think is a useful thing for the public to know,” said Muller.

Because the industry hasn’t come close to meeting their expectations, the EPA is also looking at changing some of their targets for alternative fuel usage.