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      Capping high gas prices

      USC Professor John Regalbulto explains the benefits of hydrocarbons Tuesday at a lecture at the Swearingen engineering center.

      Columbia, (WACH) - Craig Moore of Columbia drives 50 miles per day for his commute to work, with gas prices inching towards the $4 in the Midlands he's ready to pay dearly at the pump.

      "It always hurts, driving the car and having to pay this much for fuel, but what can you do? You have to drive so we're kind of stuck."

      Researchers at the University of South Carolinaâ??s Department of Chemical Engineering aren't wasting any time looking for alternative fuels.Professor John Regalbuto says converting plant materials like woodchips, cornhusk and sugar bi-products into a fuel replacement, will help America rely less on foreign oil.

      "It's exactly the same. It just doesn't come from underground petroleum crude; it comes from bio-crude."

      Moore isnâ??t buying it.

      "From what I hear, the bio-fuels that they do now, the ethanol, it's not as good as with your engines, it tends to gum up."

      But Regalbuto says the stuff burns just like regular gasoline and is made from material that would otherwise have gone to a landfill.These hydrocarbons would take care of the supply problem, but it would not drop prices back to the days of $2 a gallon.

      "I don't know if there will be a drop in gas prices, because the price is going up so rapidly because we're running out, the question is whether we can hold the line."

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