Other recommendations include using cellulosic biofuels such as switchgrass and poplar hybrids, but the assessment team acknowledged that field implementation of cellulosic biofuel crops is under development. In the meantime, cellulosic ethanol is being produced from corn stover -- the cobs, leaves and stalks left in a field after harvest.
Dale is proposing research to establish landscape design that will help farmers and land management agencies determine where and how biofuel feedstocks can be grown with minimal environmental impacts.
In our report to the EPA, were recommending planting perennials, promoting environmentally sustainable biofuel production and using no-till farming as key land management strategies, Dale said. Reducing the amount of nutrients on fields and restoring wetlands are other important parts of the panels land management recommendations.
At a recent Department of Energy conference, Biomass 2008: Fueling our Future, researchers discussed multiple aspects of bioenergy crops.
Choices about what crops are grown and how they are planted, fertilized and harvested influence the effects of biofuels on native plant diversity, competition with food crops and effects on water and air quality, Dale said.
Decisions in this area also affect economic viability because the distance that biofuels must be transported has a large effect on the market cost of biofuels as well as the quality of life for those who live in communities through which the bulky fuel is transported, Dale said.
Dale and colleagues at ORNL are now focusing on watershed studies to determine what is happening between fields and the Gulf using models at different scales to interpret the data.
Understanding these intermediate layers is crucial to filtering out th
|Contact: Ron Walli|
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory