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ERIC Number: EJ766199
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Apr-20
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
The Big Deals in Biofuels
Brainard, Jeffrey
Chronicle of Higher Education, v53 n33 pA18 Apr 2007
Plants that bear less familiar names such as switch grass, "Miscanthus," and kenaf, are not much to look at, having weathered Iowa's winter snows. But Iowa State researchers see these crops as seeds of change in alternative fuels. Rows of experimental crops line the test plots at Iowa State University's research farm. Although corn is considered both as a food grain and as a focus of efforts to rev up the biofuel industry in Iowa, researchers and policy makers agree that corn kernels alone will not help slake the growing appetite in America and throughout the world for energy. Scientists also concur that the promise of "biorenewable energy" can be fully harvested only if they can figure out how to wring cheap fuel from the stalks and leaves of corn and other plants, and not just from the energy-rich seeds. Scientists in academe and in industry are beginning to do just that. American universities, especially land-grant institutions in the Midwest, will play a major role in determining whether those efforts succeed. However, many observers concede there is a risk of overhyping the promise of biomass fuels. What's more, the intensive cultivation of crops for bioenergy could cause unintended environmental consequences, like increased soil erosion, or a reduction in the acreage available for growing food, which might result in higher grocery prices, especially in developing countries that depend on U.S. exports. But those risks have not stopped industry and the federal government from pouring more money into biofuels research, including some of the largest grants ever given to academe.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Iowa