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New text highlights role of microorganisms in alternative energy development

As the demand for and price of oil and other sources of energy continues to rise scientists are increasingly looking for abundant, cost-effective alternative sources of energy. One of the least studied and most promising sources, microorganisms, is the focus of a new book by ASM Press, Bioenergy.

"Given the limited supply of fossil fuels and the devastating effects of ever-increasing greenhouse gases, researchers have been committed to finding alternative fuel sources. Perhaps one of the least explored areas is bioenergy from microbes," reports Judy Wall of University of Missouri Columbia, a coeditor of Bioenergy, along with Caroline Harwood of the University of Washington, Seattle and Arnold Demain of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

In 31 detailed chapters, Bioenergy provides thorough explanations of the current knowledge and future areas for research on microbial energy conversions. The volume begins with 10 chapters on ethanol production from cellulosic feedstocks, which is more sustainable than ethanol production from corn. These chapters are followed by explanations of the status of energy sources that are in various stages of development, including methane, methanol, hydrogen, electricity, and butanol. Also examined are possible areas for new research that may contribute to future breakthroughs via alternative fuels. Chapters are written by experts currently engaged in the research, who not only present the current status but also lay the foundations for future research and development.

"This project grew out of awareness that we as professional microbiologists have an obligation to take the lead in developing renewable sources of fuels that are more nearly carbon-neutral and can replace the demand for dwindling fossil fuels. We hope that this compilation of these accounts of ongoing research will stimulate and inspire bright scientists who will, in turn, contribute the major breakthroughs needed to make an impact. A brief glance at the Contents will reveal to the interested lay person the remarkable variety of microbial activities that have the potential to contribute to biofuel production," says Wall.


Contact: Jim Sliwa
American Society for Microbiology

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