Biofuel

Climate & Energy

Wisconsin hospital is powered by beer and cheese

Gundersen Lutheran Hospital, in La Crosse, Wis., aims to be energy independent by 2014. Hospitals use a ton of energy, so that’s a tough goal to meet. But Gundersen is getting there by piggybacking on Wisconsin’s best-known industries: beer and cheese. Beer and cheese, while delicious, both slough off a lot of gas while they’re being made. (Not to mention after they’re consumed.) The hospital system has been sourcing biogas from a local brewery and from a dairy farm that makes mascarpone and fresh mozzarella cheese. And recently the system started getting gas from a La Crosse landfill, as well.

Biofuel

The answer to our fuel woes might be monster sweet potatoes

Corn ethanol is a good idea in theory — what’s more renewable than a fuel source you plant and harvest every year? But corn is such an inefficient energy source that if we wanted to meet our biofuel goals with corn ethanol alone, they’d have to shoulder out every other crop. You know what yields more ethanol per acre than corn, though? Sweet potatoes. And you know what yields more ethanol per acre than sweet potatoes? GIANT MOTHERFUCKING SWEET POTATOES OF DOOM.

Biofuel

Modern-day DeLorean? Airplane runs on trash

One man’s trash is another man’s airplane fuel. Adventure-seeker Andy Pag aims to obtain funding and become the first person to fly a trash-fueled plane from one end of the U.K. to the other. His aircraft, a microlight plane, will be powered by gasoline made from un-recyclable plastics like bags and packaging. The fuel is made by a British company using Fischer–Tropsch synthesis–a process of making synthetic fuel that dates back to before WWII. Pag says the fuel is worth highlighting because it produces limited CO2, and reduces the volume of plastics that otherwise would go to landfills.