biofuels

Elizabeth Canuel

Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary, Professor of Marine Science, Department of Physical Sciences

Madhu Khanna

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign , Professor, Agricultural and Consumer Economics

Christopher Reddy

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Director, Coastal Ocean Institute

Evan DeLucia

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, G. William Arends Professor of Biology & Director of the School of Integrative Biology

Pedro Alvarez

Rice University, George R. Brown Professor of Engineering and Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

November 12, 2012

Decision tool for farmers: bottom line on energy crops

Madhu Khanna

photo: Carl Wycoff

Is growing energy crops a profitable option? What's a farmer's cost to convert from growing current crops? Madhu Khanna (2009) and a colleague have developed an online calculator to help farmers as they navigate rising interest in bioenergy crops such as switchgrass and miscanthus. With the calculator, farmers can estimate the costs and the breakeven price of changing crops, based on factors such as their location, their current farming operation and expenses, and the type of energy crop they plan to grow. “We wanted to create a calculator so farmers would be able to make their own assessment,” Khanna says.

November 4, 2011

Surprising find on carbon emissions and forest biofuels

Beverly Law

photo: Urban

Law

Against prevailing assumptions, Beverly Law (2004) and her colleagues have found that thinning forests to support biofuel production will increase carbon emissions, rather than reducing them. Forests capture a large portion of the carbon emitted worldwide, and some of this carbon is stored in wood and soil for hundreds to thousands of years. "Forest policy should consider current forest carbon balance, local forest conditions and ecosystem sustainability in establishing how to decrease emissions," the research team says.

October 12, 2011

Ethanol and food security

Rosamond Naylor

photo: Ashlyak

Why have global food markets been so unstable in recent years? What has raised corn prices so high? Roz Naylor (2000) and a colleague consider these questions by analyzing complex dynamics of food and energy markets from historical, political, and economic perspectives. To stabilize global food prices, it is time to re-examine the U.S.'s domestic biofuels policy and subsidies, the authors say.

July 15, 2011

Midwest vision: from greenhouse gas “source” to “sink”

Evan DeLucia

photo: Pat Schmitz

According to a new study co-led by Evan DeLucia (2000), replacing corn with perennial grasses on the least productive farmland for ethanol would result in more ethanol output per acre and better groundwater quality, in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This switch could convert the whole Midwest "from a source of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere to a sink for greenhouse gases from the atmosphere," he says.

March 31, 2011

Perennial biofuel crops could lower local temperatures

Christopher Field

photo: Darryl Smith

If perennial grasses replace soybeans and corn for biofuel production in the Midwest, they could pull more water from the ground into water vapor, decreasing local surface temperatures by up to 1.8°F, according to a study using computer simulation co-authored by Chris Field (2000). The study suggests future research to explore whether, in the long term, the extra water used by the grasses could dry out the soil.