EcoSeed

Advertise With Us                                   Contribute With Us                                

Mon04272015

Hong Kong’s policy on environment-friendly commercial vehicles to tighten

Hong Kong’s policy on environment-friendly commercial vehicles to tighten

Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department will be tightening its qualifyin...

Philippines’ new wind farms add 303 MW to country’s power supply

Philippines’ new wind farms add 303 MW to country’s power supply

Two new wind farms in the Philippines have added 303 megawatts of clean energy t...

Geneva talks require “business unusual” approach – W.W.F.

Geneva talks require “business unusual” approach – W.W.F.

A “business unusual” approach is needed in the Geneva Talks to successfully deli...

New battery uses old batteries for greener energy storage

New battery uses old batteries for greener energy storage

Energizer has developed the world’s first high-performance battery made with rec...

Global warming to bring more devastating weather patterns

Global warming to bring more devastating weather patterns

The United Nations World Meteorological Organization confirmed that global warmi...

Jamaica to get 36.3 MW wind farm by 2016

Jamaica to get 36.3 MW wind farm by 2016

A 36.3 megawatt wind farm in Jamaica has received $62.7 million in funding from ...

A.D.B. provides Thailand with $85 million to develop wind power plant

A.D.B. provides Thailand with $85 million to develop wind power plant

The Asian Development Bank will be providing a company in Thailand loans to deve...

Business

Georgia taking leadership role in developing solar power

Georgia taking leadership role in developing solar power

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The state of Georgia is emerging as a leader among the 50 states in promoting and implementing the use of solar energy, in part because of both busine...

Read more

Loading...

Technology

Penn State develops CPV system for rooftops

Penn State develops CPV system for rooftops

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Researchers at Penn State have developed a concentrating photovoltaic system that is small enough and light enough to be mounted on a building’s roof....

Read more

Loading...

Politics

New draft text for climate agreement in Geneva reached

New draft text for climate agreement in Geneva reached

Monday, 16 February 2015

A new climate change draft text has been reached during the one-week United Nations-facilitated Geneva talks, leading to a binding treaty that is expe...

Read more

Loading...

Living Green

Wall-to-floor eco-friendly interior design

Wall-to-floor eco-friendly interior design

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The materials you surround yourself with—from flooring and window coverings to furniture and accessories—have a great impact on the health of your hom...

Read more

Loading...

Renewables

Vestas supplies Poland, U.K. with turbines

Vestas supplies Poland, U.K. with turbines

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas has announced that they have secured orders this week for two projects in Poland and the United Kingdom. The orders c...

Read more

Loading...

Low-Carbon

PG&E plans ambitious E.V. charger roll-out in California

PG&E plans ambitious E.V. charger roll-out in California

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

An estimated 25,000 electric vehicle chargers could be deployed in California by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. PG&E is seeking permission from Cal...

Read more

Loading...

Opinion

Unsustainable urban life: What's next?

Unsustainable urban life: What's next?

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Nutrition plays a critical role in everyone’s chance at a better future. Hunger, said Benjamin Franklin once, is the best pickle. Some say “pickle”...

Read more

Loading...

Grass genes, computer simulation employed for biofuel productivity

By Katrice R. Jalbuena

Grass genes, computer simulation employed for biofuel productivity

Next-generation biofuel advocates want non-food biomass such as fibrous grasses.

With more and more countries seeking to bring down their emissions by increasing the amount of biofuel in their fuel mix, the race is on to see which biomass feed stock can be the source of a sustainable biofuel industry.

While ethanol is an established biofuel, it has come under criticism for using food-based feedstock such as corn and sugarcane. Advocates for the next generation of biofuel are lobbying for the use of non-food biomass, such as fibrous grasses as well as residue from the wood processing and agricultural industries.

Genes from grass

Researchers from the University of Cambridge and Rothamsted Research, with funding from Britain's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Sustainable Bioenergy Centre, have been looking at the genes in grasses and cereal crop responsible for the development of the fibrous, woody parts of grasses such as rice and wheat.

"What we hope to do with this research is to produce varieties of plants where the woody parts yield their energy much more readily - but without compromising the structure of the plant. We think that one way to do this might be to modify the genes that are involved in the formation of a molecule called xylan - a crucial structural component of plants," said Professor Paul Dupree of the University of Cambridge.

Xylan found in grasses is different from other plants. The researchers decided to study the cause of this difference.

They identified a gene found in wheat and rice called GT61 that, when transferred into a plant known as Arabidopsis, allowed it to develop the grass form of xylan.

"As well as adding the GT61 genes to Arabidopsis, we also turned off the genes in wheat grain. Both the Arabidopsis plants and the wheat grain appeared normal, despite the changes to xylan. This suggests that we can make modifications to xylan without compromising its ability to hold cell walls together," explained Dr. Rowan Mitchell of Rothamsted.

The researchers believe that their findings could eventually be used to breed a "multi-use" crop in which the grain could be used for food, while the straw and other woody components could be used to produce energy easily and efficiently.

The researchers published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Computer modeling of the biofuel process

Across the pond, researchers from the University of Illinois also reported on the findings of their research into the sustainability of woody biomass biofuel crops such as switchgrass and Miscanthus, species of fibrous grasses that can grow in marginal land.

Agricultural and biological engineering professor and department head K.C. Ting, with Energy Biosciences Institute research professor Yogendra Shastri and agricultural and biological engineering professors Alan Hansen and Luis Rodriguez, used a computer model to run simulations on the variety of steps needed to transform biomass to biofuel to try and find the best system to minimize the cost of producing biofuel.

The model, called "BioFeed," can be adapted to analyze any region of the world. For the purpose of their research, the U.I. team looked at Miscanthus production in a 13-county region in southern Illinois.

BioFeed found that a major challenge of the emerging biofuel industry in the area would be the need for a vast and steady stream of plant biomass.

"If the biorefinery capacity is 50 million gallons of biofuel per year, you need to deliver roughly 1,500 to 2,000 tons of biomass per day," Mr. Ting said.

While each optimized solution could have its drawbacks, the researchers pointed out, BioFeed would allow those involved in biomass to biofuel production to look and learn from simulations instead of through costly trial and error.

Agronomists recommend that the crop be harvested in January of February, a season of harsh weather in the Mid-West which could increase the expense. BioFeed found that a November harvest would reduce weather-related costs, but would result in higher fertilization costs in the spring.

Next, the researchers are building another model that considers how farmers and other stakeholders are likely to behave given various economic and regulatory factors.

The BioFeed model research, which was funded by BP, is described in papers in the journals Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining; Biological Engineering; Biomass and Bioenergy; and Computers and Electronics in Agriculture.


 



Featured Partners