Texas researchers turn mesquite thorns into ethanol

The thorny mesquite tree is great for cooking up Texas bar-b-que. Nothing gives brisket a better flavor. Now a group of researchers from Texas A&M wants to turn mesquite into cellulosic ethanol. The potential is enormous as Texas sports 52 million acres of mesquite.

Often considered a tree that no one wants, the mesquite also has a poetic quality that would translate nicely into a future alternative fuel. Ethanol made from corn and soybeans is gaining most of the attention these days. But there is also extensive research into making ethanol from cellulosic or non-edible plant matter sources such as agriculture waste, forest products, switch grass and peanut shells. Even termites are under study.

The regrowth rate of mesquite is high in Texas and it usually grows on flat surfaces for easy harvesting. Landowners are enthusastic about the possibilities.

[Source: AP via Dallas Morning News]

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