By on July 17, 2007

biomass.jpgWhile Toyota has declared itself fully committed to a hybrid-powered future, Honda's hedging its bets. Honda is developing hybrids, more efficient gas-powered engines, clean diesels and now, biomass. Working with non-profit partner Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE), Honda says they've developed a new bacterial strain that produces large volumes of ethanol. The microorganisms munch on widely-available waste products including wood, leaves and plant stalks to ferment sugar into alcohol. Quoted by Reuters, RITE's chief researcher at their molecular microbiology and genetics lab didn't beat around the bush. Hideaki Yukawa claims his team has cracked the biomass nut: "This achievement solves the last remaining fundamental hurdle to ethanol production from soft biomass." Next year, Honda plans to set up a test plant (so to speak).

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9 Comments on “Biomasstransit? Or is Honda Barking Up The Wrong Tree?...”


  • avatar
    John

    So now, instead of cutting down the rain forests to grow sugar cane for ethanol conversion, we can cut down the rain forests and convert them directly to ethanol?

  • avatar
    Johnson

    While Toyota is fully committed to hybrids, they are also developing more efficient gas engines, next-gen diesels, and fuel cell vehicles.

  • avatar
    210delray

    Well, if this is for real, it sounds good. But we’ll have to see.

    I generate a good deal of vegetative waste just by pruning trees and shrubs on my property. This goes to a former landfill (via my ‘98 Frontier) where it is ground up into mulch that is then offered for sale. The big fly in the ointment is the huge diesel-powered dozer that pushes the brush into huge piles, and undoubtedly another diesel-powered grinding machine.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    No, officer, I haven’t been drinking, but I have a strange and totally awesome bacterial infection…

  • avatar
    shaker

    It’s certainly better than turning food into fuel; as part of an “energy independance” strategy, it’s an important step.

  • avatar

    John:
    Hopefully, we can spare the rain forests.

    210delray:
    I generate a good deal of vegetative waste just by pruning trees and shrubs on my property.

    Exactly. I can imagine a device, initially the size of a small dumpster, sitting in back of my garage. In go grass clippings, and in the fall, oak-tree leaves, and out comes ethanol for my car.

    Take it a bit farther, and imagine an enthanol-powered lawnmower, snowblower, and heck, while we’re at it, run a line over to your formerly gas-powered grill sitting on the nearby deck.

    Add an occasional Bag O’ Bugs to recharge the ethanol generator and you’ve got a nice self-sustaining system. Of course, it’s possible I have too vivid an imagination…

  • avatar
    LoserBoy

    I can imagine a device, initially the size of a small dumpster, sitting in back of my garage. In go grass clippings, and in the fall, oak-tree leaves, and out comes ethanol for my car.

    I don’t know about that. I’ll confess to ignorance about the specifics of the conversion process, but biology being what it is, this sounds a lot like a fancy compost heap, with all the fumes and odors that implies.

    Not to mention: there’s no such thing as a 100% efficient conversion. There’s going to be some kind of waste matter left over in your dumpster, and the ethanol has to be “separated” through some kind of process. (I’m not looking forward to dredging out that sludge.)

    I do like the “Bag o’ Bugs” concept, though. Specifically, I can see it playing a central role in some future (and fairly gross) episode of CSI.

  • avatar

    LoserBoy:
    I do like the “Bag o’ Bugs” concept, though. Specifically, I can see it playing a central role in some future (and fairly gross) episode of CSI.

    LOL. Initially, I was going to add a bit about how the Bag O’ Bugs would certainly come with a Federally-mandated warning label:

    “WARNING: Keep away from children and pets.”
    Wouldn’t want Fluffy the cat to ingest the stuff.

    As for cleaning out the ethanol generator, it could not be much more gross than the task of cleaning out the rain gutters on my home–yuck!

  • avatar
    jthorner

    One of the things I admire about Honda is that it is managed by engineers who like to solve problems and are committed to being “a Company that Society Wants to Exist”. What other corporation takes seriously that mission?

    See: http://world.honda.com/environment/2006report/pdf/2006_report_02.pdf


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