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Discovery could yield more efficient plants for biofuels
Genetically modifying a key protein complex in plants could lead to improved crops for the production of cellulosic biofuels, a Purdue University study says.
Clint Chapple, distinguished professor of biochemistry, and fellow researchers generated a mutant Arabidopsis plant whose cell walls can be converted easily into fermentable sugars but does not display the stunted growth patterns of similar mutants. The finding could maintain yield while reducing the need for costly pretreatment processes that make cellulosic biofuels more inefficient to produce than corn ethanol.
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Plywood alternative aims at easing hurricane season
Every summer, south Louisiana residents make a pilgrimage to hardware stores to stock up on big sheets of plywood, nails and other hardware in a perpetual battle against hurricanes.
An inventor from Florida visiting Thibodaux has developed a system that may change that pilgrimage.
Sustainable forestry important amid climate change
What would the 1980s have been without big hair, wine coolers and the discovery that the Earth’s atmosphere had a hole in it over Antarctica! This blanket of ozone, or O3, blocks most of the sun’s high-frequency ultraviolet rays. This discovery set the stage for the Montreal Protocol in 1987.
Today, the hole in the ozone is headed for a happy ending. Due to global mitigation measures, the hole is actually shrinking. Now, however, some scientists say the environmental triumph of recovering the ozone layer could have a troubling side effect: boosting global warming, at least in the Antarctic region.
The powerful promise of a puzzling new microscopic combustion engine
MIT Technology Review
Engines have played a crucial part in the industrialization of the world. It’s hard to think of an innovation that has had more impact.
The trend today is toward smaller, more efficient engines. There are jet engines the size of coffee cups powering autonomous aircraft and powerful electric motors that make children’s helicopters more useful than anything that was possible just 10 years ago.
Biofuels production drives growth in biomass energy use
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), biomass energy consumption in the U.S. grew more than 60 percent between 2002 and 2013.
In 2013, biomass accounted for approximately half of all renewable energy consumed and 5 percent of total U.S. energy consumed. This growth was almost entirely caused by increased consumption of biomass to produce biofuels.
Sawmills hunt for workers who can make the cut
As sawmills have become more technologically driven, filling job positions has not been as easy as it was several decades ago.
More training is needed to efficiently do some jobs. In some cases, engineering backgrounds, especially in electronics, are needed. Employees must be able to program computers that in turn direct machines, saws and robots to turn logs into wood products.
Sundog Energy brings innovative biomass system to historic Glencoyne Farm
Renerable Energy Focus
The new biomass boiler replaces an aging oil-fired boiler and is part of the Hodgson’s drive to reduce the carbon emissions and energy costs of the farm. According to Sundong Energy, the new biomass heating system will not only significantly reduce the farm’s annual fuel bills but it will also earn the National Trust an attractive income. Under the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive scheme the system will qualify for payments for all the heat it produces for the next 20 years — comfortably paying for itself and then generating years of net profit.
Russian lumber exports don't make up for drop in log exports
Increases in Russian lumber exports have not compensated for the decline in log exports that came as the result the implementation of higher log export tariffs by Russia in 2007.
The Russian log export tax that was implemented in 2007 resulted in a sharp decline of log exportation. Russia's share of globally traded logs fell from 44 percent in 2006 to 15 percent in 2013.
DTE's coal-to-biomass conversion complete
DTE Energy Services, Inc., a subsidiary of DTE Energy, has finished its conversion of its shuttered coal-fired power plant at the Port of Stockton to biomass fuel. The plant site was once one of the most polluted in San Joaquin Valley, Calif., but can now claim home to one of the cleanest solid-fuel power plants in the country. Stockton Biomass will use about 320,000 tons of woody biomass fuel annually to generate about 45 MW of power — to meet the electricity needs of approximately 45,000 homes. The fuel is primarily derived from urban wood waste, tree trimmings and agricultural processes.
US Lumber prices await signal from housing market
U.S. lumber prices showed little movement in early 2014 at levels below last year's highs as the construction industry stalled in frigid conditions, and dealers wait for any signs of a sustained increase in the annual rate of housing starts, lumber industry participants told MNI.
The framing lumber composite price, an industry benchmark quoted by Random Lengths, an industry publication, stood at $387 per thousand board feet on March 14, little changed from $388 in the week of March 7, but well below $432 a year earlier.
Federal government throws support behind wooden skyscrapers
The federal government is promoting an alternative building material for skyscrapers that’s as strong as steel or concrete, but with a smaller price tag and environmental footprint.
This miracle product? It’s wood.
Some architects and engineers say new wood products make it possible to build wooden structures much taller than previously considered safe.
Bionic plants 'watered' with carbon nanotubes turn into super-charged fauna
Scientists in the U.S. have created the world’s first bionic plants, infusing test subjects with carbon nanotubes on a cellular level to improve photosynthesis and add new functionality, even managing to turn one plant into a chemical detector. The team of biochemists and chemical engineers from MIT announced their work in the journal Nature Materials, dubbing the new field of research “plant nanobionics”. Researchers hinted that in future their work could add even more ‘exotic’ abilities to plants — from boosting mobile phone signals to acting as living streetlamps.
New method generates less waste in conversion of animal fats to biofuel
Chicken fat, pork fat or beef fat — none is the cornerstone of a healthful diet &mdash: but animal fats, including those from alligators, could give an economical, ecofriendly boost to the biofuel industry, according to researchers who reported a new method for biofuel production.
The report, following up on their earlier study on the potential use of gator fat as a source of biodiesel fuel, was part of the 247th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society. “Conversion of animal fat to biodiesel has been around for some time, but the traditional biodiesel process generates significant quantities of solid waste,” said Thomas Junk, Ph.D.
Cellulosic ethanol fights for life
On the flat plains of Kansas, a stack of gleaming steel towers and pipes stretches 16 stories into the sky. More than 1,000 construction workers toiled to complete the ethanol plant near the town of Hugoton, and its owners expect it to join a fermented-fuel revolution.
But unlike most ethanol factories, in which yeast feeds on sugars in foodstuffs such as maize (corn) kernels, the Hugoton facility will make use of what has been, until now, agricultural waste: cellulose.
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