- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
In order to slow global climate change and achieve greater energy independence, Americans are showing an increasing interest in switching over to clean, renewable fuels made from home-grown crops. In fact, Congress has mandated that at least 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol be added to the U.S. fuel supply by 2022.
However, estimates suggest that growing crops to produce that much biofuel would require 40 to 50 million acres of land, an area roughly equivalent in size to the entire state of Nebraska.
“If we convert cropland that now produces food into fuel production, what will that do to our food supply?” asks Maggi Kelly, UC Cooperative Extension...
- Author: Kat Kerlin
- Contributor: Ann King Filmer
More than a decade ago, Ruihong Zhang, a professor of biological and agricultural engineering at the University of California, Davis, started working on a problem: How to turn as much organic waste as possible into as much renewable energy as possible.
Last week, on Earth Day, the university and Sacramento-based technology partner CleanWorld unveiled the UC Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester (READ) at the campus' former landfill. Here, the anaerobic digestion technology Zhang invented is being used inside large, white, oxygen-deprived tanks. Bacterial microbes in the tanks feast on campus and community food and...
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
The troubled tobacco industry may be getting some good news for a change. UC scientists are engineering the tobacco plant to produce oils that, when extracted, can serve as drop-in biofuels to power airplanes, cars and other machines.
Research success would allow farmers who have been growing tobacco for generations to continue the tradition for a different purpose, while taking advantage of an infrastructure established to serve the diminishing cigarette, cigar and snuff markets.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
The California Energy Commission has awarded Biodiesel Industries of Ventura a $2 million grant for research and development of biodiesel fuel.
A key issue with biofuel production has been the need for inexpensive feedstocks that do not compete with agricultural land use or food production.
To develop low-impact feedstock suitable for underutilized land, the company is partnering with Stephen Kaffka, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis.
Kaffka plans to study the viability of
- Author: Janet L. White
California must continually increase its use of renewable fuels to meet mandated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). The state's historic Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB32) requires that alternative fuels displace 6 percent of gasoline and diesel use now, and 9 percent by 2012. The number goes up to 11 percent in 2017 and 26 percent in 2022.
California has been meeting these goals by importing millions of gallons of ethanol: 80 percent of the supply is corn ethanol from the Midwest, 12 percent is sugarcane ethanol from Brazil, and the rest is ethanol from corn grown here. By 2012, demand for ethanol fuel will rise to 1.62 billion gallons per year. If California does not increase its production of corn for...