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Developing sustainable biofuels
Biofuels have been heralded as having the potential to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, by powering cars and generators with energy from plant biomass.
Unfortunately, many current biofuels start with food crops, and this can exacerbate the global food security crisis.
A Ph.D. student at the University of Liverpool is studying a plant that may provide part of the solution to this problem. Agave sisalana is a proposed biofuel plant that can be grown in semi-arid conditions unsuited to food crops.
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Butternut: The other walnut
Butternut often has been called the “white walnut” or the “other walnut.”
A member of the walnut family, it has a rich, warm buttery tan color and a satin-like luster. In addition to a wide range of uses, including cabinetry, furniture, flooring, wall paneling, high-end joinery, interior trim for boats, boxes and crates, it can be sliced into veneer and is well-regarded as a carving wood. The many wonderful attributes of this tree make it all the more tragic that it is under attack from a tiny airborne fungus.
BPA addresses inaccurate report
Many wished it was a prank when, on April 1, one of the industry’s usual detractors released a report that alleges — once again — that biomass is harmful to the environment, and worse than coal. Rather than a scientific study, the report read as an 81-page editorial. This report was not peer-reviewed, nor was it joined or supported by any credible national environmental organization. National environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council have endorsed the use of biomass from wood waste by facilities mentioned in the report, such as the Plainfield Renewable Energy.
challenges the popular misconception that organic systems are weak at managing energy, nutrients and pests, and shows how innovative farm designs can enhance organic performance. Receive an exclusive 25% discount off this title. Visit CRC Press and enter promo code FPS14.
Bark beetles change Rocky Mountain stream flows, affect water quality
Farm and Dairy
Trees in mountains across the western U.S. are dying, thanks to an infestation of bark beetles that reproduce in the trees’ inner bark. Some species of the beetles, such as the mountain pine beetle, attack and kill live trees. Others live in dead, weakened or dying hosts.
Rentech acquires wood pellet producer
Los Angeles Business Journal
Rentech Inc. recently said that it acquired New England Wood Pellet, considered the largest producer of wood pellets for the U.S. heating market.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The purchase diversifies the Los Angeles company's wood processing business and opens up new geographic markets, Rentech said.
Genera Energy biomass harvest delivers time and costs savings
Genera Energy Inc., a recognized leader in biomass feedstock supply advancements, has announced a 14 percent reduction in harvest costs utilizing Genera’s recently demonstrated in-field harvesting operations when compared to similar operations using typical field-edge systems. On the receiving end, unload time for bulk harvested material improved 21 percent over the previous harvest, averaging eight minutes and 16 seconds. The fastest unload time was five minutes.
Study slams corn residue use as biofuel
The Associated Press via AgriNews
Biofuels made from the leftovers of harvested corn plants are worse than gasoline for global warming in the short term, a study shows, challenging the Obama administration’s conclusions that they are a much cleaner oil alternative and will help fight climate change. A $500,000 study paid for by the federal government and released in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change concludes that biofuels made with corn residue release 7 percent more greenhouse gases in the early years compared with conventional gasoline.
Where economy meets ecology
Think of a city as a complex organism powered by human activities and consumption. John E. Fernández, an associate professor in the Department of Architecture, wants to understand how the urban metabolism works — what it needs in terms of energy, materials and water to sustain the work and lives of its residents, and what gets discarded as waste.
Fernández is at the forefront of an emerging science of urban sustainability that explores the interplay between a city's economy, increasingly tied into global networks and its ecological consequences.
Bad signs in homebuilding and lumber
Natural Resource Report
Prices are down some, and rental rates are up. This is not a very exciting Spring for wood products manufacturers. It would not take much to upset a fragile recovery. Recent lumber manufacturing, home construction and housing markets from selected years are compared in this article.
Toyota designs a combustion engine that generates electricity
Despite the recent advent of usable, talented electric vehicles, combustion engines are likely to persist for quite some time, often as a component in plug-in hybrid and range-extended electric vehicles.
The onus then is on refining combustion power to work harmoniously with increasingly electrified vehicles — and Toyota’s new Free Piston Engine Linear Generator could be one solution.
Ohio tops for Tree City USA communities with nearly 250 urban forestry programs
The Plain Dealer
Ohio again leads the nation for Tree City USA designations with nearly 250 communities achieving the title this year.
The Tree City USA program seeks to enhance quality of life by helping communities develop comprehensive tree planting and care programs. It also provides assistance with urban forestry challenges, such as the emerald ash borer insect, according to the state’s Department of Natural Resources.
US timber industry in recovery
Saline River Chronicle via Magnolia Reporter
Dr. Matthew Pelkki, who holds the George H. Clippert Endowed Chair at the University of Arkansas School of Forest Resources was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Bradley County Economic Development Commission recently. His presentation covered the current status of the timber industry in Arkansas and the U.S. According to Dr. Pilkki the national industry is experiencing renewed growth after suffering a serious downturn over the past several years due to the economic recession the country went through but it is a slow growth and modest.
In Michigan, debate over burning trees for biomass energy
Midwest Energy News
As Michigan considers expanding its renewable energy standard, new research is raising questions about what types of biomass should be included.
Michigan’s current renewable energy standard, written in 2008, defines biomass as a renewable energy source. But based on four relatively recent studies, the Natural Resources Defense Council is urging the state to remove whole trees from its list of allowable fuel sources.
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