Saturday, September 1, 2007

Are Biofuels Sustainable?

Robert Anex, left, an Iowa State associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, is leading several studies to determine whether a bioeconomy that produces fuel and chemicals from biorenewable resources will be sustainable.

...Innovative bioconversion processes configured to recover key plant nutrients from biomass will allow recycling nutrients to crop fields, thereby closing nutrient cycles and reducing the energetic and economic costs of fertilization.

..."It may well be that the development of biomass-based crops production systems can have as profound an impact on agriculture and its environmental footprint as it does on energy security and the global climate," Anex and co-authors Andrew Heggenstaller and Matt Liebman of Iowa State's agronomy department and Lee Lynd and Mark Laser of Dartmouth College wrote in a recent paper.

..."The possibility of recycling nutrients from the biorefinery to the agricultural system that produces the feedstock may allow substantial improvements in both sustainability and production efficiency," the researchers wrote.

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