Biotech Updates

Biofuels from Plant Fibers Could Fight Global Warming

March 7, 2018

Scientists, companies, and government agencies are working on ways to decrease greenhouse emissions. In recent years, biofuels from corn emerged as a fuel source to power motor vehicles, but corn is a problematic biofuel source material, and is more useful as food.

A Colorado State University (CSU) study finds new promise for biofuels from switchgrass, a non-edible native grass that grows in many parts of North America. The scientists used DayCent, an ecosystem modeling tool to simulate various growing scenarios, and found a climate footprint ranging from -11 to 10 grams of carbon dioxide per mega-joule — the standard way of measuring greenhouse gas emissions.

John Field, research scientist at CSU, said the team has significant findings. "What we saw with switchgrass is that you're actually storing carbon in the soil," he said. "You're building up organic matter and sequestering carbon." He added that grasses, including switchgrass, are potentially more productive as crops and can be grown with less of an environmental footprint than corn because they don't require a lot of fertilizer or irrigation.

For more details about this research, read the article on the CSU website.