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Once upon a time, the machine made plastics. Then researchers at Purdue University decided to turn it to loose with corn kernels and discovered a new way to make low-cost ethanol. The resulting process is dubbed the Chen-Xu Method after Li-fu Chen, a professor in food sciences at Purdue University who helped invent the revamped machine, and research assistant Qin Xu, also from the Purdue food science department. The process, which grinds the kernels and liquefies the resulting starch with high t

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Technically, as many of our readers know, you can make ethanol out of any plant material. But some plants (and part of plants) are easier to convert to the biofuel than others. Researchers at Purdue University think that the fast-growing poplar tree (it's harvestable in seven years, they say) could easily make good ethanol.

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