Yes, Trash Can!
At least four commercial ventures are gearing up to make money from biomass power, which uses organic refuse (corn stalks, rice straw, even household food scraps) to produce alcohol-based substitutes for gasoline. Only some 3 percent of the nation’s energy is currently derived from biomass, nearly all of it from burning wood or making ethanol from corn. This new commercial interest in biomass is a departure from the past, when work on biomass was conducted primarily by the U.S. government. Farmers are beginning to see that they could make money from their agricultural wastes. In California, rice farmers used to get rid of rice straw by burning it, but new air pollution rules ban such burning, and now a California company is building a “biorefinery” to process rice straw to make ethanol. In upstate New York, sewage sludge and organic waste will be gleaned from household garbage to make ethanol.