Corn-ering the Market
(Advantage News) Passersby can’t help but notice the 12-foot tall corn growing in front of The NCERC (National Corn To Ethanol Research Center) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s University Park.
SIUE students are working the “Feedstock Diversity Showcase” that features not only corn, but also grain sorghum and sweet sorghum. These three feedstocks represent conventional biofuels production, advanced biofuels production and cellulosic biofuels production.
“This is the only ‘Feedstock Diversity Showcase’ of its kind, anywhere in the world,” says John Caupert, NCERC director. “Anyone who is interested in the past, present and future of sustainable biofuels production, should stop and visit. We are always happy to demonstrate what we are doing with the Showcase, as well as the awesome work we are doing at NCERC, in order to create a cleaner, greener, sustainable future for biofuels production.”
“NCERC has a great relationship with some of our chemistry professors, especially Bob Dixon, who is the advisor of the student group ‘From the Ground Up,” she (Ida Hand, NCERC director of communications and client relations) said. “These students plant different plants around campus. So, we thought this would be a great opportunity to help the group grow. It has worked out perfectly. They are a great group of young adults and help us out tremendously.”
Hand enjoyed seeing the students learn about agriculture.
“Some of the students could not believe that a tiny little seed could turn into a large, healthy plant that can feed the world and help put fuel in your gas tank,” Hand said. “One of the students even said they couldn’t believe the seeds actually came out of the ground!”
“I learned patience, humility, and empathy toward farmers,” Akley said. “I had no prior experience with growing crops, and I must say it is hard work! It was frustrating at times, because it was hot and weeding was a pain. It absolutely demonstrated how much effort farmers put into growing crops.”
Dixon said the group decided to initiate and participate in public displays as a way to advertise the organization and its principles. Along with the Showcase, the club also is working on a hop trellis at the SIUE Biotechnology Laboratory Incubator and the cultivation of grapes for winemaking in The Gardens at SIUE. The projects are at various stages of development with the Showcase being the most visible at this point. Funding is provided by NCERC and the Department of Chemistry.
“We plan on planting a cover crop in the winter and then next spring expanding the Feedstock Diversity Showcase,” she said. READ MORE