Biological Energy FAQ
What is Biological Energy?
Strictly speaking, "biological energy" ought to refer to the chemical potentials produced and consumed by the myriad and interwoven reactions that take place within the compartments of living matter as it... well, lives! But these processes are perhaps better known, collectively, as metabolism.
We use the phrase "biological energy" as a convention to refer to a specific social and technological endeavor: to use the metabolic capacities of organisms to convert some combination of light, biomass, organic compounds, gases and water into useful chemical-bond energy; i.e. storable, transportable, energy yielding molecules as well as industrially useful materials. Examples include hydrogen, methane, alcohols, ammonia and bioplastics.
The purpose of designing and developing biological energy systems is to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and provide environmentally friendly alternatives to some industrial processes. Biological energy is sustainable technology.
The development and implementation of these processes to the point of economically competitive technologies will require the coordinated efforts of science, engineering, business and government policy.
Why Biological Energy?
Climatological and oceanographic data point to the global impact anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have on geochemical, atmospheric and ecological systems. Even a conservative interpretation of the data suggest dire consequences if current rates of CO2 emissions continue.
Here are some other reasons:
- economic - oil will eventually run out
- political - the US relies on foreign governments for oil
- national security - famine induced instability in countries with nukes?
- moral - people will starve/die as a result of the effects of global warming
Or, the bottom line: $$$ and the opportunity to participate in the coming hydrogen economy. Perhaps we will soon be seeing the start of a "garage-biotech" revolution. Think about it - you don't need FDA approval to make gas from bugs.