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Scientists Make Ethanol Without Corn Or Other Crops

 

WASHINGTON, April 9 (Reuters) - Scientists said on Wednesday they have developed a new way to make liquid ethanol efficiently without using corn or other crops needed in the conventional method for producing the biofuel.

The scientists said their process turns carbon monoxide gas into liquid ethanol with the help of an electrode made of a form of copper. They said the new technique may be more environmentally friendly and efficient than the current method.

Critics say that growing crops for biofuels is energy-intensive and takes up vast tracts of nonagricultural land, using too much water and fertilizer. They also say diverting corn and sugar to make biofuels pushes up food prices

The United States leads the world in ethanol production, with 13.3 billion gallons in 2013, followed by Brazil's 6.3 billion gallons, according to the Washington-based Renewable Fuels Association, which represents the U.S. ethanol industry.

A group of scientists led by Stanford University chemist Matthew Kanan described the new method in research published in the journal Nature. Kanan said a prototype device could be ready in two to three years, enabling an assessment on whether the process can become commercially viable.

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