Growing Our Future

by | Jun 3, 2005

Wired reports that nearly all of the ethanol in the United States is currently produced by fermenting the sugars in corn grain.

But the economics of ethanol could soon change, according to Robin Graham, the group leader of ecosystem and plant sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Graham said that producing ethanol from the cellulose of plants is less costly than using corn grain. The cost of raw materials for biomass-based ethanol could be much lower, since tree and plant residue from clearing lots can be obtained for free, and switchgrass (a perennial crop that grows everywhere east of the Rocky Mountains) and corn stovers (dried leaves and stalks) are inexpensive to acquire.

There’s no mention of growing hemp for fuel in the Wired piece, but the fact is we need to grow hemp and corn and utilize biomass. In other words, all solutions that wean us off oil are welcome and sorely needed.