Thu, May 01, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Taiwan ready to utilize genetics to refine ethanol

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The nation’s genetic modification technology used to enhance ethanol refining is mature and will be able to produce enough biomass energy to cope with the energy crisis, researchers said yesterday.

As the world is facing both a food and energy crisis, researchers have been developing technology for genetically modifying plants such as rice and sugar cane to reduce growing time and increase the quantity available for refining into ethanol, the researchers said.

Since the nation has advanced technology, farmers and experts, it can secure a place in the biomass market, which will be an important driver of economic growth, Winston Wong (王文洋), chairman of the board of the Grace THW Group, said at a press conference.

The organizers said that only three countries in the world — Brazil, Sweden and Thailand — use significant amounts of biofuel as an alternative energy source.

Resorting to theatrics to highlight the power generated by ethanol, a magician at the press conference made a table float in midair using a small box of biofuel.

Asked if the principal costs of biomass development were too high, Yu Su-may (余淑美), a researcher at the Institute of Molecular Biology at Academia Sinica, said they were using low-cost plants, fibrous plants, rice straw and sugarcane waste in order to keep costs down. By doing so, biomass development would not overshadow the need for food production, said Yu.

The Council of Agriculture said last week that its attempts to plant biomass energy plants such as corn, soybeans and sunflowers had failed because of the high principal cost and that it would switch to agricultural waste and fibrous plants to produce biomass energy.

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