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Article Title: The False Promise of Biofuels

Author/Source: David Biello



A: List the major ideas, concepts or key points- point by point
- The breakthroughs needed to replace oil with plant-based fuels are proving difficult to achieve.
- Despite extensive research, biofuels are still not commercially competitive. The breakthroughs
needed, revealed by re-cent science, may be tougher to realize than previously thought.
- Corn ethanol is widely produced be-cause of subsidies, and it diverts massive tracts of farmland
needed for food. Con-verting the cellulose in cornstalks, grass-es and trees into biofuels is
proving diffi-cult and expensive. Algae that produce oils have not been grown at scale. And
more advanced genetics are needed to successfully engineer synthetic micro-organisms that
excrete hydrocarbons.
- Some start-up companies are aban-doning biofuels and are instead using the same processes to
make higher-margin chemicals for products such as plastics or cosmetics.
- Lost of energy is required to distill ethanol from the soup of water and yeast in which it has
been fermented, energy typically supplied by burning fossil fuels.
- Even if a superenzyme is found, it will inevitably be slow to break down cellulose because the
reactions require time to work, making volume production difficult.
- Biological architects do not know which genes are needed to make a synthetic microorganism
hardy, cheap to keep alive and able to produce oil in abundance.

B: Summarize the AUTHORs main point or idea- at LEAST 1-2 paragraphs
This article is about despite extensive research, biofuels are still not commercially
competitive. The breakthroughs needed, revealed by re-cent science, may be tougher to realize
than previously thought. Corn ethanol is widely produced be-cause of subsidies, and it diverts
massive tracts of farmland needed for food. Con-verting the cellulose in cornstalks, grass-es and
trees into biofuels is proving diffi-cult and expensive. Algae that produce oils have not been
grown at scale. And more advanced genetics are needed to successfully engineer synthetic
micro-organisms that excrete hydrocarbons. Some start-up companies are aban-doning biofuels
and are instead using the same processes to make higher-margin chemicals for products such as
plastics or cosmetics.

C: Write a reaction paragraph to the article stating your own thoughts on the topic, using
specific citations from the article to support your views
After reading this article, I think that ethanol fuel must be stop using in worldwide for
electricity. It harmful to people and environment, it has so much problems. The crop we can eat
everyday are now using for the fuels, thats not right. Corn ethanol is widely produced be-cause
of subsidies, and it diverts massive tracts of farmland needed for food. Con-verting the cellulose
in cornstalks, grass-es and trees into biofuels is proving diffi-cult and expensive. Algae that
produce oils have not been grown at scale. And more advanced genetics are needed to
successfully engineer synthetic micro-organisms that excrete hydrocarbons, the author said.

So What?
Ethanol fuel
Crop -> fuel

Says Who?
David Biello
What If?
Biofuels were commercially viable?
-> Soil erosion from plant wastes being used
for fuel leaving soil bare
What Does This Remind Me Of?
There are many ways to make electricity not
only ethanol fuel