EcoGeek posted a very interesting blogpost about a different way to produce ethanol.
The State of Georgia has granted Range Fuels a permit to set up the first cellulosic ethanol plant.
EcoGeek posted this:
Cellulosic ethanol is ethanol that comes from cellulose instead of sugar. This is good because most plants don't have a lot of sugar, but all plants have lots of cellulose. So, instead of using food crops, (like corn and sugar cane which have lots of sugar) to create fuel, we can use any crops, like mown grass clippings, fallen tree limbs or corn stalks (instead of corn ears) to create ethanol.So this is pretty good news, because this idea and the technology behind it is being explored.
Cellulosic ethanol can contain up to 16 times more energy than is required to create it! If that doesn't sound ridiculously impressive, consider that gasoline contains only 5 times more energy than was required to create it and corn ethanol is totally lame, containing only 1.3 times the energy required to create it.
Woodchips apparently were used during WW2 as a means of creating energy in what is known as wood gasifiers. That technology is also being explored at the University of Georgia as they work to produce biofuel from trees.
While I'd rather not be cutting down massive amounts of trees for fuel.. I believe that the concept of growing the materials to be used to create fuel for energy is very worthy of exploration. Developing renewable energy sources is very appealing as well as very necessary. I think that we have the capability to develop many alternative fuel sources that will be abundant and eventually relatively inexpensive. There have already been new advances in the development of hydrogen fuels.
Here is an interesting set of questions and answers regarding biofuels.