Biochemical Refineries

News from the Green Car Congress:

Researchers from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico have genetically engineered the bacterium Bacillus subtilisto ferment glucose sugar directly to ethanol with a high (86%) yield. This is the first step in their quest to develop bacteria that can breakdown and ferment cellulose biomass directly to ethanol. 

This is fantastic news. One of the crazy ideas I had (along with the locality dependent, wireless, rhythm/beat-generator for MP3 players, so everyone listens to their respective music to the same beat; hello Foucaultian disciplinarity!) was a hope that one day there will be local-scale ethanol refineries that transforms the biological rubbish from suburbs or city sections into ethanol. This would not produce enough fuel to sustain such areas (at current levels of automobility anyway), however, the locally made ethanol could be blended at point of sale fuel stations.

Beyond the question of urban populations, small scale biological refineries could be built for remote population centres across the 3rd world (internal or external to the 1st world). To enable populations to synthesise enough ethanol to power small generators in combination with other sustainable energy sources would be a massive step towards self-sustainability in the contemporary world, that is, with power for contemporary technologies.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, see Reckless Kelly.