Federal researchers say they’re cooking up a cheaper way to cook ethanol. The fuel-making process now involves boiling the starch in grain at 223 degrees, but scientists are trying to perfect a way to make ethanol at only 99 degrees. They’re using a process called “Directed Molecular Evolution.”George Robertson, a research leader at the U-S-D-A Ag Research Service office in Albany, California, says turning down the heat on the ethanol “cooking” process will lower the cost of production. He hopes ethanol plants nationwide could eventually adopt the procedure. He says it may enable other grains, such as wheat, to be used to make ethanol.Since the cost of production could be lowered, Robertson says it’s also possible the cost of ethanol at the pump could be lowered.The move may save ten to 30-percent of the processing energy while improving the efficiency of ethanol. He says the process may also enable ethanol to be made from wheat, in addition to corn, barley and other grains.
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