Biofuels: could agave, hemp and saltbush be the fuels of the future?

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Oilier plants, new processing technologies and multipurpose crops could put the biofuel industry back in the race for greener transport fuels.

Corn with a cover of grass

Read the full story from the American Society of Agronomy.

The phrase “a double-edged sword” describes something that is beneficial in some ways but problematic in others. One example is removing maize stover (the husks, stems and leaves of corn plants) from fields. Maize stover is used to make cellulosic ethanol, a renewable biofuel. And renewable biofuels are beneficial to the environment. However, removing the stover can harm the environment because it can cause the soil to erode and lose nutrients.

Taking up this double-edged sword is Cynthia Bartel, a doctoral candidate at Iowa State University. She’s finding a way to lessen the harm and increase the benefits of removing maize stover.

Ridding the oceans of plastics by turning the waste into valuable fuel

Read the full story at Phys.org.

Billions of pounds of plastic waste are littering the world’s oceans. Now, a Ph.D. organic chemist and a sailboat captain report that they are developing a process to reuse certain plastics, transforming them from worthless trash into a valuable diesel fuel with a small mobile reactor. They envision the technology could someday be implemented globally on land and possibly placed on boats to convert ocean waste plastic into fuel to power the vessels. The researchers will present their results today at the 253rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Biofuels can slash aircraft particle emissions and reduce contrails

Read the full story at New Atlas.

By collecting and analyzing the contrails created by planes running on a biofuel mix, a NASA study has found that biofuels can cut particle emissions by as much as 70 percent. The benefits come not just from reducing carbon emitted directly into the atmosphere but by also cutting down the chance of contrails forming, which can have an even bigger impact on the Earth’s atmosphere.

Growing algae for food and biofuel could cut greenhouse emissions

Read the full story at EnvironmentalResearchWeb.

“Come round for dinner! I’ve got some lovely fresh algae.” Tempted? Perhaps not, but roll forward 50 years and micro-algae might well feature on the menu. Maybe not directly, but they could become a common base for cooking oils, and a major constituent of animal feeds. Cultivating algae for food and biofuel could make a serious dent in our greenhouse gas emissions, as well as helping to save freshwater resources and reduce deforestation.

Species diversity reduces chances of crop failure in algal biofuel systems

Read the full story from the University of Michigan.

When growing algae in outdoor ponds as a next-generation biofuel, a naturally diverse mix of species will help reduce the chance of crop failure, according to a federally funded study by University of Michigan researchers.

Potential Biofuel Crops in Hawaii May Successfully Sequester Carbon in Soil

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

Two potential biofuel crops in Hawaii–sugarcane and napiergrass–may sequester more carbon in soil than is lost to the atmosphere, according to a study published January 4, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Meghan Pawlowski from University of Hawaii Manoa, U.S., and colleagues.