Wallace believes we should let native grasses grow and then harvest them after the first frost. Using a gasification process developed at OSU, the grasses can be used for ethanol production. Wallace says we should not limit our options to just one species though.
Palmer agrees citing several "unintended consequences" as the potential result of pursuing a narrow range of feedstocks for ethanol production. These include the introduction of invasive species, increased soil erosion and the release of additional nitrous oxidea powerful greenhouse gas.
Rather than react to the energy crisis with another potential crisis, both researchers suggest collecting the right kind of data now to find out if cellulosic ethanol production is sustainable. Ecological research supports stability in cultures with multiple species, but both Wallace and Palmer say we need to more thoroughly examine the options.
"We have to think long term," says Wallace. "Our future depends on it."
|Contact: Jana Smith|
University of Oklahoma