The very best feedstock, at least for the US, would be cornstalks, after the erars of corn are removed, and post-processing sugarcane. Wood scarp would be good, but the logistics for using wood scrap make it less viable.
But cornstalks are presently not very useful, once the corn ears are removed, and the main value of sugar cane stalks is in the sugar that gets recovered. So there are two materials that contain lots of cellulose, just waiting for a process to convert them into fuel. And if they would be cost competitive without any government subsidy then that would be th ultimate benefit. The huge flaw of government subsidies is that when they end the entire business plan is no longer quite valid, and a product may suddenly have no demand because of not being competitive any longer. This is one of those unintended secondary results that so manyof our government people choose to ignore.
I believe that the main benefit to this is economy of emerging markets. This will raise the overall cost of food as some of this supply is used for fuel. It will reduce the waste from the food industry of overproducing (possibly). But most of all it will give a chance to smaller weaker economies to start growing due to the demand of the products needed for this fuel. And the beauty of this is that any country capable of having a strong agriculture could benefit from this. No natural resources required...... Isn't this wonderful?
Greg, I always try to give raw materials when known. There's still a big gap between the leaders--sugar/starch-based, which means food crop-based, first-generation--and the cellulosic biomass-based second-generation fuels. Unfortunately, the first-generation fuels still have the biggest share of the market. We'll be reporting on that soon.
Thanks Ann for thoughtfully including the raw material each biofuel is made from. I agree with you that a higher demand for green fuel could have some significant, unintended effects. Depending upon which raw material is used for these types of fuel, prices may or may not be impacted.
The potential effect of the aviation industry on existing supplies of renewable diesel (aka green diesel) could be significant. The most hopeful scenario would see that demand increasing the overall supply more than is needed for aviation, so it also boosts what's available for ground transportation. I thought it was interesting that the Boeing R&D announcement mentions that there's already enough in existence globally to satisfy 1% of aviation fuel needs. Sound small? It is--but 1% is also more than there's been previously.
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