DuPont Recruits 500 Farmers for Non-Food Biofuel Project
Next year DuPont plans to complete one of the first and biggest commercial-scale cellulosic biorefineries in the world, which will make biofuel from corn stalks and leaves at this Nevada, Iowa construction site. (Source: DuPont)
I am sure your cost argument is valid but I wonder how much of that argument comes from a culture that is entrenched in how things have always been done and doesn't want to branch out and make the effort to do something new with the waste. I suppose it will take efforts like DuPont's (which I applaud, by the way) to see how this can be both environmentally and financially sound for all parties involved. Maybe you're right and it's policy that will change things and support this so it benefits the farmers as well.
Ann, don't get me wrong, but I still have to wonder about the economics of this. After one of your previous articles I was down on a farm here in Illinois. I asked the fatmer about it. He had significant corn stubble left in his fields. He was aware of the opportunity, but pointed out that he would have to bundle the stalks for them to be used. The indication was that it was not worth the cost. Costs include fuel, equipment wear and farmer time (and wear).
Getting the most from a raw material is very attractive from a social and environmental point of view. The problem comes in the economics. There was a recent article I saw about ethanol producers trying to get more out of the corn by developing secondary products. One was a protien that could be used to make plastics. So, even using the "leftovers" from a process, it turns out that it is cheaper to petroleum based products for the same purpose. These are the kind of engineering trade studies I have seen in a myriad of businesses.
It may take tax and environmental policies to tip the scales.
The amount of plastic clogging the ocean continues to grow. Some startling, not-so-good news has come out recently about the roles plastic is playing in the ocean, as well as more heartening news about efforts to collect and reuse it.
Optomec's third America Makes project for metal 3D printing teams the LENS process company with GE Aviation, Lockheed, and other big aerospace names to develop guidelines for repairing high-value flight-critical Air Force components.
A self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
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