Making Fuels from Biomass

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Science  03 Jun 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5727, pp. 1421-1422
DOI: 10.1126/science.1113354

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In an effort to replace fossil hydrocarbon fuels, chemists have looked for ways to convert biomass to useful fuels. In his Perspective, Rostrup-Nielsen discusses recent work on converting carbohydrates such as sugars and cellulose to ethanol and hydrogen, both of which can serve as alternatives to hydrocarbon fuels. However, ethanol requires an expensive distillation step, and hydrogen would require a new infrastructure. He highlights the report by Huber et al. , who have found a way to convert carbohydrates directly to hydrocarbons. The latter would not require a new infrastructure nor expensive distillation.