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Bacteria take plants to biofuel in one step
Science News
A lone bacterium, genetically tweaked, can demolish switchgrass and ferment the sugary rubble to ethanol in one fell swoop. The microbe’s one-step conversion of the crop eliminates the need for expensive plant-digesting treatments, offering the potential for cheaper biofuels. Plucked from hot springs, the bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor bescii grows around 80° Celsius, and naturally wrecks tough, complex plant molecules such as cellulose.
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A fuel cell for the home
R&D Magazine
The fuel cell converts chemical energy directly into electrical energy. Still, there hasn’t been a market breakthrough for this technology because the systems have been too complex. Now, Fraunhofer and Vaillant have developed a simple new fuel cell device for home use.
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Forestry: Study US, Swiss differences
Missoulian
Switzerland and Montana are similar in many ways: both are world-renowned for their beautiful mountains, derive significant economic benefits from nature-based tourism and are concerned about conservation. In addition, the land available for timber harvesting is 71 percent publically owned in Switzerland and 70 percent in Montana. However, the area available for timber harvesting totals only 3.2 million acres in Switzerland compared to 19.9 million acres in Montana, and Switzerland’s population is 10 times greater.
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Training microbes to make biofuel
The Bismark Tribune
Producing more biofuels is on the agendas of governments and private industry alike. Biofuels can potentially help nations become more energy independent. If a country can grow plants and produce biofuels from them, that nation could potentially import less crude oil. Biofuels, if done right, also could reduce the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced in the transportation sector. But there are drawbacks, at least with corn-based ethanol.
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Do's and don'ts for drying lumber and pallets
Pallet Enterprise
People have been drying wood for centuries with both success and disasters. Successes are usually based on great quality with minimal drying times. Disasters are a result of poor drying conditions, either too slow or too rapid for the particular material. Knowing these do’s and don’ts can make all the difference. Let’s start in the woods and move up the value stream.
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West Virginia determining impact of new pollution rule
The Associated Press via Bloomberg Businessweek
West Virginia would have to cut carbon dioxide emissions by about 20 percent by 2030 under a new federal rule, sparking outcry in a state powered by coal and defined by mining. Government leaders, who said recently they are still digesting the rule's finer details, vowed to fight it. They blasted the rule targeting coal-fired power plants as a job killer for miners. They said citizens would absorb higher electricity costs.
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USDA supports renewable biomass energy program
Reno Gazette-Journal
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced support for agriculture producers and energy facilities working to turn renewable biomass materials into clean energy. The support comes through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and will resume this summer.
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Fredericksburg shop gives salvaged wood a second life
The Free Lance-Star
Old wood is getting new life in a just-opened shop in downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia. “It’s a nostalgic look that you can only get by using old wood. You can’t manufacture something Mother Nature has done to make it look 100 years or older,” said owner David Fraser. Most of that wood has been salvaged from barns, corn cribs and industrial warehouses across the U.S. and Europe. Species include oak, heart pine, chestnut and cherry.
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Laminated veneer lumber: Product review and leading case study
Architecture & Design
First developed in the early 1970’s, laminated veneer lumber (LVL) is a high-strength engineered timber product formed by assembling wood veneers and bonding them together with a ‘type A’ phenolic adhesive which provides a waterproof bond. According to Alex Edwards, an associate at design and engineering consultancy firm Arup, a log is peeled to a 3mm thin laminate, dried and sorted by its physical properties, before being laminated back together in a way that maximizes the strength of the output.
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Tobacco gets a makeover as new source for biofuel
QUEST Northern California
Tobacco is about to get a facelift. As a key ingredient in cigarettes, the plant contributes to gum disease, emphysema and cancer. This has led to a decline in cigarette sales and tobacco production in the U.S. over the past 25 years. But one research team thinks tobacco could provide a societal benefit by becoming a new source for biofuel.
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Tree-killing beetle creates opportunity for urban lumber mills
Here&Now
Ash trees are dying across much of the country. A green beetle, the emerald ash borer, has spread from the Upper Midwest, imperiling millions of trees. But there is opportunity amid the destruction. Urban lumber mills that saw up salvaged city trees are on the rise — spurred by mounting demand for local products and a tsunami of supply delivered by the emerald ash borer.
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EPA's CO2 reduction proposal could be positive for biomass energy
Biomass Magazine
The U.S. EPA is taking action to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants. On June 2, the agency published a proposed rule that aims to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent in 2030, when compared to 2005 emissions. With regard to biomass, the proposal specifically recognizes “that biomass-derived fuels can play an important role in CO2 emission reduction strategies.”
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Global warming not causing more wildfires
The Daily Caller
Mankind has an effect on the number of wildfires, but not in the way many politicians or journalists would have you think, says a forestry professor. Professor David B. South of Auburn University says that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have nothing to do with the amount and size of wildfires. It’s largely forest management that determines the number and size of wildfires, not global warming.
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