Here's some more promising, innovative and privately-funded research with the potential to free us from Mideast oil. Coskata, a renewable bio-fuels company in Illinois, is using a proprietary microbe in a patented bioreactor to convert waste products into ethanol without using food crops.
They have partnered with General Motors and are building a demonstration plant in Pennsylvania that is projected to produce ethanol for less than $1.00 per gallon.
Coskata has a slide presentation to demonstrate their unique process. One of the most exciting aspects of their technology is the flexibility to use a wide variety of 'feedstock' - even landfill garbage! - enabling them to build plants virtually anywhere on earth. American ingenuity...it's a beautiful thing.