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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will soon explore the feasibility of offering crop insurance to producers of biofuel feedstocks ranging from straw to corn stover to woody biomass. This feasibility evaluation, to be funded by the Risk Management Agency, builds upon the USDA's ongoing effort to insure growers of switchgrass, energy cane and camelina.

The U.S. Renewable Fuels Standards (RFS2) becomes effective Thursday, July 1 and it describes a whole lot of changes for the biofuels industry in the U.S in the coming decade or so. To prepare for the changes and to figure out just what's even possible, the USDA issued a "Regional Roadmap to Meeting the Biofuels Goals of the Renewable Fuels Standard by 2022" last week. One thing that's not changing – not yet, anyway - is the dominating role of ethanol made from corn in the U.S.

Audi has announced a record-beating A4 that has a maximum speed of 327.2 km/h (203 mph). The unusual feature of this A4 is that it runs on biogas, naturally obtained from the anaerobic fermentation of switchgrass. The experiment was performed to promote the use of biogas as an alternative fuel. Bear in mind that Germany imports almost all the country's gas needs from Russia, so a biologic alternative has a lot of domestic support. Regarding the technical side of the experiment, the A4 was a stan

Using switchgrass and sorghum, the bio-energy company Ceres will on day make cellulosic ethanol at a plant that is currently being built near Soperton, Georgia. Ceres will work with Range Fuels to make the biofuel over the next few years (this is a test after all, not a commercial endeavor just yet). The biorefinery will mostly make cellulosic ethanol from wood residue, but these alternative sources (alternative to the alternative, in a sense) are in Ceres' sights because "they are highly effici

A recent paper by Wally Tyner published by Purdue University shows that, at least for Corn Belt states (like Indiana), corn stover could be a better cellulosic ethanol source than switchgrass. The paper considers the cost and prospective profits of whether a farmer could decide to plant and sell corn and corn stover, or plant switchgrass. The answer is clear to the author: corn is more productive, the soil quality is low, in which case switchgrass becomes the winner. There is also a consideratio

A paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that new breeds of switchgrass yields 20-30 percent higher than earlier strains. This shows that it may be a more viable plant source to produce ethanol than previously imagined. The document states that these newer breeds produce 540 percent more energy than the energy consumed in its production, up from a previous study that estimated yield at 343 percent.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is working closely with the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) in the development of alternative fuels: specifically, ethanol. The aim is to produce ethanol with a high energy output and that is inexpensive to make. Currently, much of ethanol produced in the U.S. is from corn and soybean. The DOE is aiming to produced ethanol whose wholesale cost is a $1 or less per gallon which would make it competitive to fossil fuels. Currently ethanol is subsidized at 51 cents per ga

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