U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Science Magazine Policy Forum Discusses Biofuels Sustainability
Published: October 06, 2008
Posted: January 27, 2009

The October 3, 2008, issue of Science contains a Forum contribution led by Phil Robertson of Michigan State University.  Robertson is the lead sustainability investigator for the DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and a scientific advisor to the upcoming October 28 DOE/USDA Sustainability workshop.  In the article, Robertson and coauthors describe potentially harmful environmental impacts resulting from fuel uses of grain-based ethanol and suggest ways to reduce them. Production of ethanol and other biofuels from cellulosic biomass appears to have substantial sustainability advantages compared to grain-based ethanol, but the authors caution that an expanded research agenda and careful policy consideration will be required to realize the potential benefits. The authors conclude that "sustainable biofuel production systems could play a highly positive role in mitigating climate change, enhancing environmental quality, and strengthening the global economy, but it will take sound, science-based policy and additional research effort to make this so."

Contact: John Houghton, SC-23.2, (301) 903-8288
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Plant Systems and Feedstocks, Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Research Area: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts
  • Research Area: DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRC)

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER


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