Dating Your Feedstock and Never Marrying: The 6 Hottest Ways to Alleviate Food vs Fuel
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) With the US drought, food vs fuel has returned as an issue. What alternatives are scientists, entrepreneurs developing to take us beyond the old debate?
...1. Feedstock diversification. In biofuels, it is more talked about – the push beyond corn starch and cane sugars into corn stover, sugarcane bagasse, woods and forestry residues, animal wastes, algae, municipal solid waste, and energy grasses as well as new inedible oilseed crops such as jatropha, carinata and camelina.
But there are opportunities for food manufacturers as well.
Take for instance Solazyme Roquette Nutritional’s whole algalin flour.
…2. Increasing yield per ton. …Great technologies are those that optimize their yields. For example, the US ethanol industry used to have yields in the 2.5-2.7 gallons per bushel range. Today, 2.9 gallons per bushel is state of the art at many facilities, and POET has found ways to increase that to 3.0 gallons in some cases.
Continuous improvement is what has analysts excited over KiOR, too…
… 3. Reducing water intensity. When drought comes, water is more precious than ever. That’s why it wasbig news this week when Syngenta announced that it has signed trial agreements with Golden Grain Energy (GGE) of Iowa and Siouxland Ethanol of Nebraska to demonstrate the value of Enogen grain.
…4. Supertraits and super yields. As we pointed out in 7 paths of the New Agriculture:
If new crops are unavailable, and residues exhausted, why not try to get more productivity out of the overall plant. In the old agriculture, there was double-cross hybridization to put more vigor into a plant, and there have been additional inputs such as added nitrogen, to assist with the growing cycle.
But in the new agriculture, there are traits that confer drought-tolerance, heat-tolerance, pest- or pesticide-tolerance.
…In specific bioenergy crops, companies such as Ceres (switchgrass, energy cane in the Blade energy crop family) and Mendel Biotechnologies (miscanthus) have been garnering the most attention as they bring new traits forward for the new integrated biorefineries utilizing energy crops.
…5. Utilizing Waste Lands. If all the above strategies are already used, or unavailable, why not bring lands into production that have previously be un-productive.
...6. Improving results from photosynthesis. …PETRO aims to create plants that capture more energy from sunlight and convert that energy directly into fuels. READ MORE