Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tiny Super-plant Can Clean Up Animal Waste And Be Used For Ethanol Production

Date:
April 13, 2009
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
A tiny aquatic plant can clean up animal waste at industrial farms and be part of the answer for the global energy crisis. New research shows that growing duckweed on wastewater can produce five to six times more starch per acre than corn.

Duckweed.
Credit: iStockphoto

Researchers at North Carolina State University have found that a tiny aquatic plant can be used to clean up animal waste at industrial hog farms and potentially be part of the answer for the global energy crisis.

Their research shows that growing duckweed on hog wastewater can produce five to six times more starch per acre than corn, according to researcher Dr. Jay Cheng. This means that ethanol production using duckweed could be "faster and cheaper than from corn," says fellow researcher Dr. Anne-Marie Stomp.

"We can kill two birds – biofuel production and wastewater treatment – with one stone – duckweed," Cheng says. Starch from duckweed can be readily converted into ethanol using the same facilities currently used for corn, Cheng adds.

Corn is currently the primary crop used for ethanol production in the United States.  However, its use has come under fire in recent years because of concerns about the amount of energy used to grow corn and commodity price disruptions resulting from competition for corn between ethanol manufacturers and the food and feed industries. Duckweed presents an attractive, non-food alternative that has the potential to produce significantly more ethanol feedstock per acre than corn; exploit existing corn-based ethanol production processes for faster scale-up; and turn pollutants into a fuel production system. The duckweed system consists of shallow ponds that can be built on land unsuitable for conventional crops, and is so efficient it generates water clean enough for re-use. The technology can utilize any nutrient-rich wastewater, from livestock production to municipal wastewater.

Large-scale hog farms manage their animal waste by storing it in large "lagoons" for biological treatment. Duckweed utilizes the nutrients in the wastewater for growth, thus capturing these nutrients and preventing their release into the environment. In other words, Cheng says, "Duckweed could be an environmentally friendly, economically viable feedstock for ethanol."

"There's a bias in agriculture that all the crops that could be discovered have been discovered," Stomp says, "but duckweed could be the first of the new, 21st century crops. In the spirit of George Washington Carver, who turned peanuts into a major crop, Jay and I are on a mission to turn duckweed into a new industrial crop, providing an innovative approach to alternative fuel production."

Cheng, a professor of biological and agricultural engineering, co-authored the research with Stomp, associate professor of forestry, and post-doctoral research associate, Mike Yablonski. The research, which is funded by the North Carolina Biofuels Center, was presented March 21 at the annual conference of the Institute of Biological Engineering in Santa Carla, Calif.

Cheng and Stomp are currently establishing a pilot-scale project to further investigate the best way to establish a large-scale system for growing duckweed on animal wastewater, and then harvesting and drying the duckweed.

"Growing High-Starch Duckweed on Wastewater for Ethanol Production" by Jay J. Cheng, Anne-M. Stomp and Mike Yablonski, North Carolina State University was presented March 21, 2009, at the 14th Annual Institute of Biological Engineering Conference in Santa Carla, Calif.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Tiny Super-plant Can Clean Up Animal Waste And Be Used For Ethanol Production." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090407105257.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2009, April 13). Tiny Super-plant Can Clean Up Animal Waste And Be Used For Ethanol Production. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090407105257.htm
North Carolina State University. "Tiny Super-plant Can Clean Up Animal Waste And Be Used For Ethanol Production." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090407105257.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins