Researchers Seek New Strains for Biofuels
by Adam Stone (Defense News) With the U.S. Navy spending an increasing amount of cash on alternative energy — including biofuels — researchers at South Dakota State University have embarked on a project that could generate a new strain of plant-based fuels.
“We want to know, can we grow it well? Can we grow it efficiently?” said Daniel Scholl, director of the university extension’s Agricultural Experiment Station, which operates six field stations covering 17,000 acres.
Scholl’s team is experimenting with such little-known oilseed crops as crambe and brassica carinata, or Ethiopian mustard.
…These oilseed plants could have other advantages, Scholl said. Ethiopian mustard, for one, is highly resistant to heat and drought.
The project has received $500,000 a year for three years in funding from the state of South Dakota. While that funding will go toward the development of test crops, the project likely will seek partners in private industry as well. Researchers will need help in developing the infrastructure to process seeds and breed the plants on a larger scale.
…“From the perspective of the agricultural producers, the growers in South Dakota, they want to know: What are the estimated times to plant these crops?” Scholl said. “What other food crops can I rotate in with them? What’s the impact of an oilseed crop on my wheat crops? When do I harvest? What alterations do I need to make in my equipment?” READ MORE