Thanks, Scott. I agree about the experimental aspect. However. I don't think I want to leave the health of the environment up to "market forces." Neither do the Europeans or the Japanese, among many others.
Ann, I agree. Compared to other fuels, modern-day biofuels are in their infancy. Who knows what the picture will look like 50 years from now - but if we don't experiment a bit - we won't have any alternatives to petroleum. It's an experiment and ultimately market forces will prevail.
Assuming the right process is found, you're right about the potential value of these plants as biofuel. But the 200 ecology, wildlife biology, and forestry scientists quoted in the NYT article I sent a link to are rightfully concerned. Plants are harder to control and domesticate than animals, and the risk of their pollen or seed/rootstock escaping is well illustrated by the kudzu example. Figuring out how to harvest what's already there as biomass and turning it into fuel might be a more useful and worthy research project for eradication.
We've got some really invasive plants here in my part of the Golden State. One that's consumed acres in my area is scotch broom: it's also a horrible wildfire hazard, as we re-discovered again a few years ago when it seemed like the whole state was burning up. There are teams of dedicated volunteers who go out in all kinds of weather to uproot it, and other bad guys, from state parks and other wild areas. I wonder if there are similar programs in OK?
I'm not talking about planting the stuff! Red Cedar consumes about 700 acres per DAY! We need to get a program going for simply harvesting it, to try to contain it. Then wrap it for the trasnport to processing plant, where it could be pulverized into carbon products, instead of CO2.
It also explodes in wildfire conditions, creating far nastier fires than native grasses alone.
The stuff reminds me of Mesquite, out west. Greasewood, some call it Hmmmm, maybe both would produce good jet fuel!
Rocky, I've heard of several proposals to turn invasive plants--even kudzu--into biofuel, so one might think why not red cedar, too. Sounds like red cedar is a candidate performance-wise. However, there's been concern about invasive plants escaping and causing even more of a problem than they did as a semi-wild pest. Kudzu, for example, escaped and became a huge problem only after farmers were paid to grow it as a hedge against erosion: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/23/invasive-grasses-as-biofuel-scientists-protest/
Oklahoma has this nasty invasive tree, Eastern Red Cedar. It was imported during the dustbowl as windbreak, which it did. Once the dust died down, the stuff has invaded pasturland, cropland, and national forests. It reduces the ground under it's needles to unusability by even cocroaches! Wildlife, grass, wheat, not even alfalfa will grow under it.
A test of it's shavings for biofuel resulted in very favorable grade of JetBioFuel.
Now all Oklahoma needs is a bit of investment to get the project off the ground.
Thanks, bobjengr. Using any substance in huge quantities for making fuel that we also use as a resource for something else will pose problems unless it's something we want to get rid of, such as CO2. I see all of these attempts as not necessarily the ultimate answer, but as part of the learning process and as possible partial answers.
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