Given the nature of Enterprise’s business, one point that stood out for me was the assertion that converting corn into ethanol – a biofuel – increases the price of corn and corn-based food items as a grocery item in the United States.
Dr. Sayre also pointed out that this “food vs. fuel” issue highlights the importance of developing biofuels from non-food portions of corn plants, and not from the corn itself. He referred to this plant material as cellulosics and hemo-cellulosics – which you and I would call stalks and cobs. Regardless of what you call it, it’s about producing biofuels in a way that has less impact on the food supply.
This aligns well with Dr. Sayre’s work at the Enterprise Institute for Renewable Fuels, where his team is developing biofuels from an especially promising non-food source – algae. The goal is to move as quickly as possible to create a viable and plentiful non-food, alternative fuel source for mass transportation.
And there’s an added benefit in that algae can be grown in land areas that are marginal for agriculture, which can make more land available to grow corn and other food crops.
All in all, it’s a promising – and, I think, very exciting – step in the right direction toward producing enough food and fuel to go around.
New developments in the field of synthetic biology have put new interest and energy behind algae as a viable alternative fuel source. Thanks to the work of Dr. Sayre and others, you could be filling your tank with algae-based fuel sooner than you might think.