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Converting biomass into clean, renewable fuel


Narrator:            This is Science Today. The University of California is teaming up with industry partners to convert biomass into a clean renewable fuel to replace natural gas. Bob Cattolica, a professor of engineering physics at the University of California, San Diego, is the director of the UC Discovery West Bio Fuels project, which includes the participation of three UC campuses. Together, they are working on a robust gasification process that utilizes a broad range of biomass materials that usually ends up in a landfill.

Cattolica:            Typically we do our test on woodchips but we are expanding and working with California industry, particularly the almond industry has very large production of a biomass product from the shells, pumice from the wine production industry, actually the original design of this type of gasification was used to process organic materials after recycling from a municipal solid waste.  Almost any biomass material can be converted in this type of a process.

Narrator:            Cattolica estimates that this carbon neutral process, which would reduce greenhouse gases, and generate millions of dollars a year on the power grid, should be commercialized over the next two to five years. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.