writes "SciAm reports that farmers and USDA scientists have tracked the energy inputs into a native perennial grass over a five-year period. They've also tracked the output, and they say there's a 540% surplus of energy harvested over what's put in by the farmers. It even grows on land that's not good enough farmland for raising food and fiber crops. The catch is that it requires cellulose to ethanol conversion, which unlike sugar to ethanol conversion is not yet a commercial concern in the US.
The DOE intends to help change the picture by partially funding six refineries for cellulosic biorefineries to the tune of $1.2 billion.
It certainly sounds better than ethanol from corn, but we'll have to wait to see if this is the fuel source of the near future in the US."