Very interesting, Ann. Nice use of waste materials, especially since everything usable has already been squeezed from these materials. I also like that it's non-food materials that are going into the concrete.
Thanks for presenting a different side about how the refuse from these crops can be reused, Ann. I didn't realize there was this type of research being done, but it's good to see! Anytime natural waste materials can be reused to improve something else, that's a good thing.
Rob, the whole second-generation phase of biofuels is surprisingly unknown to many people, especially here in the US. That second generation is the use of non-food crops, on soil that can't be used for food crops, etc. etc.
Elizabeth, what I really liked about this one was the multi-win-win strategy. Keep a potential pollutant out of landfills, use something that's otherwise thrown away (=trash) to squeeze even more value out if it (aka recycling of a sort), make a better product with it that's also got a better carbon footprint than the previous ingredient, and help farmers make more $$ by selling the cellulosic trash instead of paying to have it hauled away. Now--how do we apply this model elsewhere?
I would have thought it would be better to turn any such "waste" under to replenish the organic material in the soil. Since it is cellulosic, I would think this would also help keep the soil loose. This should make it a little less important to put synthetic fertilizers on the ground the next spring.
Excellent use for recycled materials. Concrete has been reinforced for eons to make it stronger or lighter. From adding straw to mud bricks in thy neighbors hut, steel rebar in just about everything cast concrete, to adding limestone or pumice (lavarock) in the concrete domed cielings of ancient structures such as the Parthenon. A building which has survived earthquakes and other factors for 1900+ years...
Not all farmers want to recycle this stuff, for several different reasons (one being that cellulosic material doesn't make very good fertilizer, which has very specific chemical requirements, as any gardener knows). Some of them are covered in the story we did on DuPont using corn stover for making biofuel--we gave the link in this story, but here it is again http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=257126
Elizabeth, the model of using waste plant material for making biofuel and bioplastics is already well underway, as we've covered in several posts in DN. One is the DuPont story about biofuel: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=257126 Another is using cane trash to make bioplastics: http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=237554
All gardeners know what they buy in a store - the synthetic, or maybe not, fertilizers I mentioned - have specific chemical requirements. Good gardeners also swear by leaf mold: cellulosic material partly consumed by mold that they turn under in the spring to give the soil more tilth. Sounds like what we're taking away from the soil this way.
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
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