Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Biofuel

Comments

Antibiotics in your meat? The ethanol industry might be partly to blame

Photo by USDA.

Last year, while touring a fairly small, pasture-based farmstead cheese company, I found myself in a giant feed barn with a group of curious foodies. It was one of the last stops before the cheese tasting, so no one wanted to linger. But I have a distinct memory of what it was like to stand there staring at the giant piles of grains, thinking: “The cows eat all this, on top of the grass?”

Like many dairies and livestock operations, the farm owners had been able to lower their feed costs by using the byproducts of industrial food and fuel production. Towering around us that day, we were told, were giant piles of canola pellets, cotton seeds, and soy hulls (from oil production), and dried distillers grains (from ethanol production).

Comments

Terrified by peak oil, FedEx turns to biofuels, efficiency

FedEx owns 700 planes and tens of thousands of trucks, which is why CEO Fred Smith is crazy for energy efficiency, reports NPR.

Shortly after Smith founded Federal Express, the 1973 Arab oil embargo almost killed it. The experience imprinted Smith with a keen interest in the price and availability of oil.

Comments

Power source of the future: Snails

Sometimes I think researchers design experiments specifically to win an Ig Nobel prize. How else do you explain a paper titled "Implanted Biofuel Cell Operating in a Living Snail"? But regardless of the intention, that's what a team of Israeli and American scientists has managed to do, according to a paper published comfortably in advance of April Fools' Day in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Comments

Can pond scum save you from $5 gas? [VIDEO]

In the spectrum of alternative fuel sources, biofuel made from algae is perhaps the most easily mocked. How could the slimy green muck that grows in your aquarium and washes up on the beach be a future cornerstone of American energy independence? So when President Obama stood before the University of Miami recently and said algae could provide up to 17 percent of our transportation fuel, we wanted to know: Is he right? Here's what we found out:

Comments

In 2014, corn biofuel is out, wood biofuel is in

Biofuel sounds like a pretty good idea -- down with power plants, up with regular plants! -- but if the country switches over to corn ethanol we will basically be unable to grow any other crops. A new study has calculated that corn destined for ethanol production would have to take over 80 percent of current farmland in order for the country to meet current biofuel goals. But next generation biofuels can come from many other plants besides corn. And for the first time, they might be commercially viable.

Read more: Biofuel

Comments

New Melbourne restaurant runs on your pee

Melbourne’s Greenhouse restaurant wants your patronage. But more importantly, it wants your pee.

That’s right -- this pop-up restaurant, which is open from March 2 through the 21st in honor of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, wants you to get all up in its custom-made toilets. The green eatery is collecting human urine and using it to fertilize soybean and canola crops. The restaurant, which is designed by Joost Bakker who is clearly a maniac, then uses unrefined canola oil to generate electricity for all of its operations.

Urine may seem an unorthodox energy source, but it is actually a great source of fertilizer when diluted. According to Bakker, “Urine is incredible for nitrogen, it’s so valuable -- you only need the urine of 25 people to provide fertilizer for a hectare of crop.”

Comments

Map shows avalanche of cellulosic ethanol projects on the way

In the battle between food and fuel, cellulosic ethanol might not be a great idea or even a viable solution to our energy woes, but enzyme company Novozymes says it's coming, regardless. (Cellulosic ethanol is different than the regular kind -- it's produced from "leftover" crop waste that is first digested by enzymes.)

Comments

Mexico City’s giant landfill will power 35,000 homes

Mexico City just shut down its enormous Bordo Poniente landfill, which has received 79 million tons of garbage on its 927 acres since 1994. But they’re not just leaving all that rotting organic matter to, well, rot. Instead, the city open a landfill gas power plant, which should be able to power 35,000 homes at its peak, reports Elizabeth Malkin in the New York Times.

Comments

You can make fuel cells out of cockroaches

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have figured out how to make cockroaches into creepy-crawly batteries. Finally, living in filth can pay off by lowering your electrical bill!

Read more: Biofuel

Comments

1,000-pound butter sculpture will power farm for three days

Like deep-fried cake on a stick (or regional variants), butter sculpture is a staple of state fair tradition that will never go away even if it's unnecessary and kinda gross. But at least the Pennsylvania state fair is using its behemoth butter statuary as a source of alternative energy.

Read more: Biofuel, Food