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.
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The first photos made with a 3D-printed telescope are here and they're not as fuzzy as you might expect. A team from the University of Sheffield beat NASA to the goal. The photos of the Moon were made with a reflecting telescope that cost the research team £100 to make (about $161 US).
A tiny humanoid robot has safely piloted a small plane all the way from cold start to takeoff, landing and coming to a full stop on the plane's designated runway. Yes, it happened in a pilot training simulation -- but the research team isn't far away from doing it in the real world.
Some in the US have welcomed 3D printing for boosting local economies and bringing some offshored manufacturing back onshore. Meanwhile, China is wielding its power of numbers, and its very different relationships between government, education, and industry, to kickstart a homegrown industry.
You can find out practically everything you need to know about engineering plastics as alternatives to other materials at the 2014 IAPD Plastics Expo. Admission is free for engineers, designers, specifiers, and OEMs, as well as students and faculty.
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