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Transportation fuels that are clean-green, plastic that disintegrates, sugar that doesn't rot your teeth. It's hard to believe, but it all flowed from the mind of the most unlikely of amateur scientists, who was inspired not by any academic laboratory, but by his owns musings at walden pond.
He's right about that. He outsmarted MIT and now he's lured some pretty powerful men to his board of directors, including former Shell Oil executive Sir John Jennings, and three former cabinet secretaries – Steve Chu of the Department of Energy, George Shultz, former secretary of state and former defense secretary, William Perry.
Lesley Stahl: Is there enough biomass to supply enough of this ethanol and gasoline in the world? Dr. Steven Chu: It can make a significant dent. A possible 30 percent dent in the petroleum market, according to a report by the Department of Energy. But the question is: can Marshall Medoff scale up his operation enough to compete with the oil industry? Bill Perry: What is in doubt in my mind is how long it's gonna take breaking into these huge industrial markets, established markets, with established companies. That's gonna be a big undertaking. John Jennings: It won't turn off oil and gas overnight, obviously. It won't turn off coal. It won't turn off nuclear. It won't turn off all the other sources of energy. But it will find its place. And I think it will find it relatively quickly because of all the boxes that it ticks. One of those boxes is that Xyleco's fuels could be easily dropped into the pumps at existing gas stations. Marshall Medoff: You wouldn't have to change anything.
We're working on research -- strong research to figure out cellulosic ethanol that can be made from wood chips or stalks or switchgrass. These materials are sometimes waste products that are just simply thrown away. And doesn't it make sense for us -- I think it does -- to use taxpayers' money to determine whether or not we can use these raw materials to make something out of nothing so that we continue the advance of ethanol and so the market for ethanol expands throughout the United States?