Thursday, November 13, 2008

Grassy cellulose on NPR

By John Sutter

If you haven't heard that some plants other than corn can be made into biofuels, check out this NPR story on efforts in California to turn prairie grasses into ethanol.

Similar research is going on in Oklahoma, and the Tulsa World reports that the state recently received a $15 million grant to research how exactly scientists will go about getting switchgrass ready for car engines. There's already a 1,000-acre switchgrass plot in the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Environmentalists have pointed to a host of problems with corn ethanol, and that's made room for non-food crops to claim their spot as the "second generation" of the biofuels movement.

For evidence of this backlash, you need not look further than the SUV the state secretary of the environment drives for state business. GM donated the vehicle, which now is painted with nebulous planty designs (similar to the Hummer above, although that's not the actual vehicle). The old model was this wild yellow color and had corn all over it.

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