The carbon dioxide problem has been give much less attention than alternative fuel or biomass-derived energy production yet it is very important as chemical production creates billions of tons of carbon dioxide each year. But fear not – an analysis has concluded that use of existing biotechnology in the production of so-called bulk chemicals could reduce consumption of non-renewable energy and carbon emissions by 100 percent. B. G. Hermann and colleagues analyzed current and future technology routes leading to 15 bulk chemicals using industrial biotechnology, calculating their carbon emissions and fossil energy use. They have concluded that savings of about 500-1000 million tons per year are possible. The study, “Producing Bio-Based Bulk Chemicals Using Industrial Biotechnology Saves Energy and Combats Climate Change,” appeared in the Nov. 15 issue of ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology. Bulk chemicals like ethylene, butanol or acrylic acid are the basic raw materials used in the production of everything from plastics and fertilizers to electronic components and medicines. But even in these days bio-based bulk chemicals “offer clear savings in non-renewable energy use and green house gas emissions with current technology compared to conventional petrochemical production.”. Hopefully this study is not going to remain just a theory.
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