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Biofuel Technology and Innovation in the 21st century

Updated: Oct 24, 2018

Michelle Arnold

Graduate Student

Utah State University

Logan, Utah, United States


Innovation is a key element in the belief of infinite economic growth. With consistent or increasing innovation, economies are able to use resources more efficiently and thus combat the consequences of increasing scarcity. However, it has been shown that when investigating innovation that the theory of diminishing returns does apply within multiple fields and industries. Over the past several decades, interest in alterative liquid biofuels has been recurring due to the price of traditional fossil fuels, research into climate change, and government initiatives. This research uses patent data collected from the United States Patent and Trademark Office to calculate the productivity of innovation within the liquid biofuel sector overtime to see if diminishing returns are occurring. The results show that productivity in innovation in liquid biofuel technologies is not only decreasing overall, but can be detected in each generation at varying rates. It is imperative to understand where on the innovation curve different generations of liquid biofuels fall in regards to their innovation technology since this can inform investors, policy makers, and society. This research can give insight into the industry in respects to future innovation and the best use of our private and collective capital.

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