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Cambridge biodiesel cluster meets at MIT

By | January 24, 2007
A cluster of biofuels companies based in Cambridge, Mass., including GreenFuel Technologies, Mascoma Corp. and Celunol Corp., met in mid-December to discuss the future prospects of the biofuels industry. The event was hosted by the nonprofit Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Enterprise Forum in Cambridge.

Paul Ho, director of Credit Suisse's global energy group and the moderator of the forum's panel, led a discussion that focused on "second-generation biofuels technology," and the current opportunities for renewable energy companies to receive financing. "There is a lot of money chasing deals out there," said Ho during the panel. "It's much easier to get financing in the current market than before."

Intellectual property was another area of interest, as Mascoma and Celunol described each company's approach to bioengineering microorganisms to improve the efficiency of cellulosic ethanol production.

According to the MIT Enterprise Forum, GreenFuel presented its cutting-edge technology, which involves carbon-dioxide-eating algae that can clean smoke from the stacks of power plants and then be harvested and converted into biofuels. Essentially, this is a process for turning carbon dioxide emissions into biofuels, said Cary Bullock, president and CEO of GreenFuel, during the panel discussion.

Natural Resources Defense Council analyst Nathanael Greene was also on hand to emphasize the fact that the concern for global warming is a legitimate factor in the interest in biofuels, and that there are a variety of other approaches that shouldn't be ignored in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Also, the ways through which biofuels are developed must be done responsibly and conservatively, Green said during the discussion, adding that he thought it would be possible for ethanol shipped by rail from a coal-fired plant in the Midwest to a coastal market could have a greater greenhouse gas footprint than gasoline.
 

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