prominent, determined LDS scientists are heading the fight to get
Americans off their oil dependence and on to alternative fuels.Bruce
E. Dale and George W. Huber have been working tirelessly to make
"grassoline" a reality — that is, fuel made from inedible parts of
plants.Their efforts have finally caught the attention of a
nation growing more and more concerned about not only oil dependence,
but also the state of the environment. In July, Dale and Huber
coauthored the cover story of Scientific American Magazine on
"grassoline."What was it like to have such a respected
publication give them the spotlight? "It was the culmination of 33
years of research — it's definitely the broadest based, most public
thing I've ever done," said Dale, 59, who asserted that it was his good
old-fashioned stubbornness that helped him press forward when the
community at large was still apathetic toward the need for alternative
fuels.__IMAGE1__Huber, 35, a professor of chemical engineering at the
University of Massachusetts, has testified before Congress twice about
exploring the potential of biofuels and renewable energy. "It's so
important," he said. "We have this great, new process developing to
make green gasoline.""Grassoline" was a term coined by one of
Dale's graduate students, Matthew Scoggins, in 1991. It captures the
idea of taking plant material and converting it into oil. It is a
straightforward process: Plants take carbon dioxide and convert it into
energy; the key is unlocking this energy to use as fuel."We're
developing methods to open up the structures of plant materials to get
the sugars out and convert them biologically to fuels," Dale said of the efforts of his laboratory at Michigan State University, where he
likewise teaches chemical engineering. "It's important to realize that
trees, grass, are actually 70 percent sugar in weight, but that sugar
is chemically tied up in a way so it's not easy to get at."For
those who are concerned that using plants in order to create fuels
could be damaging to the environment, Huber pointed out that they are
using non-edible biomass. "We're using agricultural residue — like
corn stalks after the corn has been picked — so it doesn't compete
directly with food. It could actually improve the environment as well
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