Let us take you on a journey from these beakers to your petrol tank. A few years ago, the idea of cellulosic ethanol -- making liquid fuel from wood, grasses, and agriculture residue -- was a foreign concept to most. Now many consumers, industrialists, and policy makers consider making cellulosic ethanol on a commercial scale one of the most important technical challenges for society.
Mascoma is one company in the race, with what it hopes is a breakthrough in cellulosic ethanol through biotechnology.
General Motors invested in the company earlier this year and on Friday named its director of global energy systems R&D to Mascoma's board. On Friday, Mascoma also opened up its lab in Dartmouth, N.H., to describe its technology and report on its progress.
The feedstocks, from left to right, are corn stover (stalks and leaves), hardwood chips, switchgrass, and paper sludge (what's leftover from paper processing).