09/07/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

5 Things You Didn't Know Were Biofuels

When talk turns to biofuels, it often soon turns to food shortages next. Biofuel doesn't have to be made from food staple crops, though.

Here are five unexpected potential biofuels:

Giant Grass:
Giant Grass, also known as Elephant Grass or Miscanthus, yields twice the amount of ethanol per acre than corn or switchgrass ethanol in one quarter of the space.

Miscanthus, for instance, is able to grow on land too marginal for crop production, so it doesn't have to compete with land for food crops. It also doesn't require major input or fertilization after planting and once established will yield for around 15 years.

No longer known solely as the main ingredient in tequila or agave nectar, Mexican scientists began to test the viability of the agave plant as a potential ethanol producer. Scientists estimate that agave can produce up to 2,000 gallons of ethanol per acre per year and increase to 18,000 gallons if the plant's cellulose is processed. The plant is also praised for its durability.

Sapphire Energy, a biopetroleum producer, boasts a renewable, high-octane diesel made from algae called Green Crude that is chemically identical to gasoline.

"The resulting gasoline is completely compatible with current infrastructure, meaning absolutely no change to consumer's cars." This is of course in addition to the benefit that their Green Crude is a carbon neutral fuel.

The kudzu plant, which is also known as "the plant that ate the South" grows vigorously in the United States at a rate of 6.5 feet a week.

Researchers estimate that kudzu could produce 2.2 to 5.3 tons of carbohydrate per acre in much of the South, or about 270 gallons per acre of ethanol, which is comparable to the yield for corn of 210 to 320 gallons per acre. They recently published their findings in Biomass and Bioenergy.

Sugarcane-Giant Grass Hybrid:
Giok Se Tijong created Tijong grass, a sugarcane- giant grass hybrid plant in his homeland of Indonesia in the 1950's as quality cattle feed. Recently, the retired minister was inspired to test his plant for it's biofuel potential.

Preliminary tests show that the grass has a high carbohydrate content (71.26%) and Tijong has produced ethanol from it in his home laboratory, but he has yet to receive enough backing to do much more.


::Watch this video of algae as biofuel, cooking oil, health supplement on the Huffington Post.
::More on green energy from the Huffington Post.