story to find out more.
Soil scientist Jane Johnson evaluates corn
stover's potential as a heating and cooling fuel through a highly efficient
burning technique called gasification. Click the image for more information
Farmers Have Antidotes to Oil Dependency
By Don Comis
August 24, 2006
Developing ways to use crops and
manure to displace petroleum-based fuels is the goal of Agricultural Research
Service (ARS) scientists in the
Energy and Manure Management Research Unit in Bushland, Texas.
In addition to studies there, the search for alternative fuels extends
across the country, including places like the ARS
Central Soil Conservation Laboratory in Morris, Minn.
Clark, research leader at the Bushland unit, and colleagues plan to test
various biodiesel fuels. Their idea is that locally available materials, such
as palm oil in Hawaii, are most economical to use. Inspired by Clarks
presentation on biodiesel, one Arctic village uses fish oil biodiesel to fuel
generators that provide the towns electricity.
The Texas scientists are also working with the
Texas Agricultural Experiment Station
in Amarillo on burning a manure-coal mix to heat buildings and to provide heat
needed to produce ethanol. This is one of many possible alternative fuels being
considered to cut costs in manufacturing ethanol.
Theyre also researching potential uses for the manure-coal ash left
after burning, such as for fertilizer or horticultural bedding material.
Jaradat, research leader at the Morris lab, and colleagues are cooperating
with the University of Minnesota
at Morris to test the gasification of cornstalks, wood and other materials
to heat and cool university buildings. They are analyzing the ash to see
whether it is safe to use as fertilizer.
Gasification is a burning technique that turns cornstalks and other
materials and their smoke into a gas that can be used for cooking or heating.
The gas can also be converted into electricity and could even fuel vehicles in
an extended petroleum shortage.
The Minnesota scientists are also researching whether hydrogen or a
Cuphea-based biofuel might fuel the university's back-up generators.
Cuphea is a genus of herbaceous annual plants that grow throughout the
Western Hemisphere. Cuphea plants yield a unique seed oil that
potentially could be used as biofuel without the chemical modification required
of soybean oil. This also has potential for use as an industrial lubricant,
displacing imported oil.
more about the research in the August 2006 issue of Agricultural
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief scientific research agency.