|MadSci Network: Environment & Ecology|
Hi Vernon, I'm a weed scientist and I happen to know quite abit about genetic engineering in plants. I have also heard about genetically engineering living organisms to produce fuel. I do not have all the answers that you seek, but I do know where you could go to find them. Since it appears that you are a grad student in environment and ecology I will give you some leads (the ones I would follow if I had the time) which should give you the last bits of information that you require. It appears the science involved in engineering organisms to produce fuel is zipping right along. I located three sites that are reports from government meetings concerning the technology. There filled with promises of solving the problem of what to do when the oil runs out. http://www.house.gov/science/klass_03-25.htm http://www.senate.gov/~lugar/990317a.htm http://www.esd.ornl.gov/bfdp/doeofd/94_95sum/ethan2.html As far as separation of fuels from organisms is concerned. There is an entire branch research focused on that aspect of science, complete with a journal and internationa meetings. (Separation chemistry). Here are some useful web sites for that. http://www.nf-2000.org/secure/Fair/S503.htm http://www.fri.cri.nz/ieabioenergy/liquid/volumes/vol4.htm http://www.biomass.org/alert.html http://www.users.bigpond.com/Steve.Schuck/ABT/Reports/Conference_Report.htm But for your purposes, I have uncovered a very interesting web site that is full of very recent research proposals. Many come with references which you can locate at your library and all have names of scientists who are actively involved in this line of research. These are the people you will need to contact to find out answers to how much fuel do you get per day per litre of actively growing bacteria (or whatever). http://sbir.er.doe.gov/sbir/cycle17/phase1/bes.htm About 15 years ago I was a science teacher and I used to teach that the worlds resources were limited and that we needed to conserve. Then about 10 years ago I realized that there were always substitutes for the things we use (look at the alternatives to freon for air conditioners). Often these alternative cost more, but if people have the money and they want it, then companies will produce it. Now I worry about how our use of technology effects the environment. People want personal cars, it the oil in the world is used up, there are always lots of alternatives (ponds of bacteria in every yard, corn stalks, etc). We will be able to keep our personal cars and zip go whenever where ever, it may just cost more to do it. What's the cost to the environment? Wouldn't the money be better spent on world education schemes and insuring everyone has a reasonable quality of life? These of course are all moral issues. and beyond the scope of your question. Hope this gets you going on your search. Cheers, Steve
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Environment & Ecology.