The dissolving wood stick

A long time before breaking down plant fibers to produce ethanol was linked to energy independence and national security, researchers at Iowa State University watched a wooden stick falling apart and sinking into a beaker of liquid. Forty years ago.

But the University isn’t identifying the compound until they explore the potential for patents.

Breaking down the tough cellulose that forms the structure of a plant’s cell walls can release the simple sugars that are fermented into ethanol. Many additional crops, weeds and waste products can be used in the fuel matrix, removing production pressure from food and feed crops.

Oklahoma Energy Secretary David Fleischaker said, “If we took every stick of corn that we grow and turn it into fuel and eat none of it, we’re talking about producing about 12 percent of the 140 billion gallons of gasoline that we burn annually.”

via agnet: Iowa State University, John Verkade