Switch Grass: Fuel for the Future?

NPR has a good, quick introduction to switch grass, which snuck its way into this week's State of the Union address as an example of a new energy technology available to help replace oil imports. Thus far, it has been far enough under the radar that TreeHugger hasn't covered it; so what is it, and how does it work? David Bransby, a Professor of Energy Crops at Auburn University, enlighted us. Here are the highlights: it grows eight or nine feet tall, native to the US. Generally, it's very hearty and will grow in nearly any climatic variation, from the Gulf Coast into Canada. As a crop, it has a very high yield per acre (five to tens tons) with little use of pesticides, and a low production cost, which are two keys for economical production of alternative fuels. Switch grass can net up to 100 gallons of ethanol per ton, which is more efficient than corn, it's better-known counterpart, and switch grass also uses the whole plant for making fuel, whereas corn uses just the grain. Sounds almost too good to be true, but we like what we're hearing so far. More details to be had by listening here. via ::NPR

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