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Tobacco's Biofuel Potential

  • Posted by on March 27, 2010 in Energy
  • If a new scientific report is any indication, tobacco's beaten down public image stands to improve in coming years.

    Biotech scientists from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia believe that genetically modified tobacco leaf could be an efficient, non-food crop biofuel, making the golden leaf the latest in the series of possible biofuels being put forth as clean solutions to the nation's energy crisis.

    In the report, pubished in Plant Biotechnology Journal, the scientists say that tobacco is an attractive "energy plant" because it can generate a large amount of oil and sugar more efficiently than other biofuel crops.

    This is good news not only for clean energy advocates but also tobacco growers, who have been hit hard by slumping demand caused by tax hikes, health concerns, smoking bans and social stigma.

    And, while farming high quality tobacco leaf for cigarettes is an expensive process, tobacco grown for biofuels is relatively cheap and easy.

    Non-smoking commuters don't have to worry about inhaling second hand smoke while stuck in traffic - the tobacco would only be used to extract its oils and sugars, not to power vehicles.

    (AP story via MNN)

    Photo by ZUMA Press


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