There’s some more good news about cellulosic ethanol, a fuel derived from grasses and other nonfood sources. It’s long been estimated that the amount of energy in such fuels will be much more than the energy required to make them–which is not the case with corn-grain-based ethanol. Now experimental results are in, and the ratio of energy produced to energy used is even better than expected. The renewable energy produced was 540 percent more than the nonrenewable energy used to make it. Previous studies estimated that the number would be more like 340 percent. The improvement comes, basically, from farmers using less energy than researchers thought they would to grow switchgrass, one of the proposed cellulosic sources.
The better ratio means that cellulosic ethanol could do more to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions than previously thought. That’s particularly good news, since new legislation will require that some 21 billion gallons of fuel be made from such non-corn-grain sources. The trick now is to improve methods for converting switchgrass into ethanol–making the processes cheaper–and to get farmers to start growing switchgrass in large amounts.
Meta has built a massive new language AI—and it’s giving it away for free
Facebook’s parent company is inviting researchers to pore over and pick apart the flaws in its version of GPT-3
The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus
The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.
Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging
The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.
Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI
One of the godfathers of deep learning pulls together old ideas to sketch out a fresh path for AI, but raises as many questions as he answers.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.