Im sure youve heard someone complain about
rising gas prices. Well, someday they might not
have to worry so much about it. Agricultural Research Service scientists are
studying other fuel sources that could eventually replace petroleum
Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in
Beltsville, Maryland, scientists are
testing to see if
government vehicles can be switched to fuel made from soybeans, corn, animal
fats, waste greases--like used frying oil--or other crops.
Its part of an effort
to cut back on petroleum products--and to create
more uses for U.S. crops. If the project works, more
corn will be needed to make crop-based fuel. That
could be good for U.S. farmers...the more corn and soybeans people need, the
more the farmer can sell, the more money the farmer can make.
Another good thing about
crop-based fuel is that it burns cleaner and is less sooty--soot is that
black smoke that comes from cars and trucks. Crop-based fuels may help
engines run cleaner, decreasing vehicle repairs.
Beltsville center is ARS largest research facility. A total of 140
tractors, trucks, a tour bus, and other vehicles,
including snowplows, are gassed up with B20," a mix of 20 percent
modified soybean oil and 80 percent regular diesel fuel. [Click front-end loader for the list of ARS farm equipment
using biodiesel fuel.]
If you ever want to take a ride in a car or bus powered by
soybeans, you can. The ARS National Visitor Center bus, which is used for
Beltsville farm tours, is running on biodiesel fuel. It was the first ARS
vehicle to fill-up on soybean-based fuel.
ARS scientists are conducting
biodiesel fuel research at the Eastern Regional
Research Center in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, and the National Center for
Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois. They are trying to find
ways to make fuel and other products from vegetable oils, animal fats, greases,
and used restaurant oils.
Are there disadvantages
to using biofuels?
Biodiesel fuel costs more
than regular diesel fuel. But, the price may drop if people use it more.-- By Tara Weaver-Missick, Agricultural Research Service, and
Comis,ARS Information Staff.
Check back in
the coming months for more stories on products made from crops.