New online tool provides instant access to targeted information

By Erin Voegele | July 29, 2011

Elsevier, a publisher of scientific journals and books, has announced the launch of a new online search and discovery tool that aims to provide those in the biobased industry with instant access to the highest level of scientific, industrial and commercial information to solve their continued innovation requirements. The tool, called Elsevier Biofuel, allows professionals to easily and accurately navigate through more than 900 journals, 800 books and nearly 6 million patent documents.

“As a former BioEnergy R&D manager I am acutely aware of the technical, economic and commercial challenges faced by professionals in the industry,” said Marcus Gay, Elsevier Biofuels’ biofuels information consultant. “Elsevier's Biofuel Information Discovery Tool pulls together scientific and commercial information enabling researchers to have this critical binocular vision during every stage of the development process."

Gay said the goal of the new tool is to help accelerate the commercial development of alternative energy technologies. “Scientists and engineers in our industry face a very wide range of technical and economic challenges,” such as the cost and sustainability of feedstock, the efficiency of a particular conversion process, or the existing market demand for end products, he said. The tool is designed to help find solutions to these questions.

The tool is accessed online using a secure login. “The tool interface itself has been developed to be very intuitive, and very powerful with respect to this domain,” Gay said. “Over the past few years we’ve been collecting a lot of key words and terms…By doing that we’ve been able to create a hierarchy of what we call a terminology tree. This terminology tree is half a million keywords that are clustered in families and created in such a powerful way that when you type in the world algae, you can very easily run that query to about 16,000 strings of algae. So, the world ‘algae’ can be really powerful in the query, rather than just looking for the text word algae as you maybe do in other platforms.”

Although the tool is new, Elsevier is still working to improve it. Based on urging from members of industry, Gay said his company is hoping to add scientific literature produced by government agencies, such as the U.S. DOE. “Our feedback from customers is that they spend a lot of time hunting all over the internet to find these different sources of information, and if they could use our service…to point them to the article or document or report that is of value to them, that increases their efficiency and helps them have a much higher quality in their research and development activity,” Gay said.