2013-01-16. Could Some Midwest Land Support New Biofuel Refineries?

posted Jan 19, 2013, 10:51 AM by Alan Gould
| Richard Harris, NPR news. Relevant to GSS Energy Use chapter 9. Excerpt:  Millions of acres of marginal farmland in the Midwest — land that isn't in good enough condition to grow crops — could be used to produce liquid fuels made from plant material, according to a study in Nature. And those biofuels could, in theory, provide about 25 percent of the advanced biofuels required by a 2007 federal law. …G. Philip Robertson and colleagues at Michigan State University's Kellogg Biological Station have been looking at plants that don't require farm fields. "First, we discovered that the grasses and flowers that take over fields once you stop farming produce a fair amount of biomass, especially if you provide them a little bit of fertilizer," Robertson says. …Using these crops for fuel is much better for the atmosphere than burning gasoline…. But biofuels could at best provide only a tiny fraction of our energy needs. …The 27 million acres identified in the latest study would provide less than 0.5 percent of our national energy demand…. And the more we try to expand biofuels, the more we risk displacing crops for food, or chopping down forests, which store a huge amount of carbon. …Europe has recently recognized those potential hazards and is scaling back its biofuels ambitions…. Read[/listen to] the full article: http://www.npr.org/2013/01/16/169538570/could-some-midwest-land-support-new-biofuel-refineries