Researchers hoping to ease America's oil addiction are turning sawdust and wood chips into bio-oil, a thick black liquid that could become a green substitute for many petroleum products.
Bio-oil can be made from almost any organic material, including agricultural and forest waste like corn stalks and scraps of bark. Converting the raw biomass into bio-oil yields a product that is easy to transport and can be processed into higher-value fuels and chemicals.
The United States can grow enough fresh biomass -- more than a billion tons each year -- to supplant at least a third of its annual petroleum use, according to an April 2005 study
(.pdf) by the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Energy.