Tiny Flower Turns Pig Poop into Fuel

Duckweed spreads like wildfire to cover ponds. Jay Cheng, a biological engineer at North Carolina State University says this tiny aquatic plant could be a way to clean up industrial farm waste AND provide fuel for our vehicles!
More than a decade ago, Cheng and fellow NC State forestry professor Anne-Marie Stomp wondered whether fast-growing duckweed, commonly seen in shallow ponds, might remediate animal waste. Excrement from the billions of animals raised every year in America's factory farms has fouled watersheds, especially in the South, and fed oxygen-gobbling algae blooms responsible for rapidly-spreading coastal dead zones.

Duckweed, they discovered, has an appetite for animal waste, quickly converting it to leafy starch that can then be converted into ethanol. The current source for most U.S. ethanol is industrial-scale corn farming, which requires large amounts of toxic pesticides and dead zone-feeding, fuel-intensive fertilizers. When the costs are added up, corn-based ethanol may prove little cleaner than gasoline.


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This looks very promising. Like Johnny Cat said, the early days of any new field of technology will involve a shotgun approach to new ideas. That said, lets' face it, corn-based ethanol has more to do with farm subsidies and pork than it does with the environment.
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Just like when the internet was new, and there were so many players amidst all kinds of mischief and struggle, someone is going to emerge from the Alt Fuels race as victor. And as Google proves, creative thinking and innovation are the keys to that kingdom.
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