Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Corn Parts for Fuel

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Corn Parts for Fuel

Article excerpt

Ground cover may be one workable method to reduce the effects of erosion that future biomass harvests are predicted to bring. Iowa State University researchers are looking at ways to use ground cover, a living grass planted between the rows of corn, in production farming.

The seemingly limitless national appetite for ethanol has industry and government looking beyond the kernel to the entire corn plant for more fuel. But corn, the source of most of the United States' ethanol, is not limitless, so turning corn stalks and leaves into ethanol is the target of much research.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects that by the year 2030, about 20% of ethanol will be made by turning corn stalks and leaves, known as corn stover, into fuel. That projection assumes that 75% of this corn stover can be harvested for biofuels.

Currently, stover is not used to make ethanol. Farmers now leave

corn stover on their corn fields to slow wind and water erosion and resupply the soil with organic material to ensure future productivity. "The issue is this," says Ken Moore, an Iowa State agronomy professor. …

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