Fruit may be the latest source for biofuel madness

Could your kumquat power your Kia? A team of U.S. scientists has made a low-carbon fuel from fructose, the sugar in many fruits. It could be a better bet than ethanol, with 40 percent more energy, less vulnerability to water, and more stability; since it can also be made from plant cellulose, it could also skirt the food-vs.-fuel debate. DMF — 2,5-dimethylfuran, the result of mixing fructose with salt water, hydrochloric acid, a solvent, and a copper-coated catalyst — “should be a great fuel,” says James Dumesic of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His team has made only small batches, and unknowns abound. But Dumesic says, “We could make this happen [on a large scale] within the next few years if we are told from an environmental safety point of view that this would be a good thing to do. The process … is very much like a petroleum process, and the knowledge of the petroleum industry in scaling things up could all apply here.” Yeah, Big Oil will definitely want to play along with this one.