photo: Paul Johnson/The Ledger
TreeHugger has highlighted recently a number of projects in the United States which are attempting to develop feedstocks for ethanol from non-food crops: Kudzu, Cattails, Miscanthus. Now comes word, via The Ledger, about one man who believes a hybrid grass of his own creation could be a successful applicant for the 'non-food crop ethanol source to save us all' position.
To be fair, he doesn't actually say it will save us all, but that's often the impression I get from renewable energy researchers. I digress...Here are the details:Sugar Cane-Elephant Grass Cross Investigated
Rev. Giok Se Tijong developed his namesake 'Tijong grass'—a cross between sugar cane and elephant grass—in the 1950s, when he still live in Indonesia, as a better feed for his cattle. When he moved to the United States in the 1970s he brought samples of the grass with him and planted it at his Lakeland, Florida home. Only recently has he turned to trying to produce ethanol from it.
Preliminary tests show that the grass has a high carbohydrate content (71.26%) and Tijong has produced ethanol from it in his home laboratory, but he has yet to receive enough backing to do much more. The stumbling block is land: Tijong doesn't have enough land to grow a test plot of enough size to attract interest.
Diversity in Energy Source Essential
Obviously, at this point, this is as much a human interest story as anything else. The original article makes the easy, if apt, remark that Tijong pursues the project with "the zeal of a missionary". But I think it's interesting that as more people become aware that producing biofuels from food crops is ultimately a dead-end—I'd say non-starter but we're too far down the path already for that—it seems that our collective eye is turning to any plant that can be refined into ethanol.
via :: The Ledger
Alternative Ethanol Feedstocks
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Cutting Cattails for Fuel? North Carolina Researchers Investigate Potential Ethanol Feedstock