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A Way to Make Motor Fuel Out of Wood? Add Water

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

A Georgia company says it has overcome a major roadblock in turning agricultural waste into vehicle fuel and other useful chemicals by experimenting with a technology that treats the waste with compressed water heated to very high temperatures.

The company, Renmatix, plans to cut the ribbon on a research and development center on Tuesday in King of Prussia, Pa., near the heart of the nation's chemical and refining industry, to complete development of the process. The goal is to accomplish something that has eluded a dozen companies in recent years despite big government inducements: to commercialize a technology for making use of cellulosic biomass, or wood chips, switchgrass and the nonedible parts of crops.

If it works, the technology could reduce the nationís reliance on oil imports for gasoline in favor of a cleaner-burning and less expensive source of energy. A company with a workable technology would have a guaranteed market, given that Congress has set quotas for the consumption of cellulosic fuel but so far, hardly any is being produced.

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