DR. SUMESH ARORA
SEPTEMBER 1, 2010 11:10:00 AM
Two centuries ago, wood served as our energy fuel for the American frontier, providing home heat and powering commercial furnaces and eventually steam engines. Last week, the Legislature approved an incentive package for facilities to advance wood – an abundant renewable energy source in Mississippi – from the old blacksmith’s furnace to modern automobiles. Once refined, the final product is not an additive or blend like ethanol or biodiesel; it is indistinguishable from traditional gasoline except that it will be cleaner.
There is nothing magical about making petroleum-like oil from wood, because the basic building blocks are the same carbon and hydrogen molecules found in fossil fuels. The trick is to convert these molecules into useable fuels economically and efficiently in a few seconds, just as nature did under heat and pressure over millions of years.