Growing duckweed on hog farms could not only clean up animal waste but provide a biofuel energy stock with five to six times more...

duckweedGrowing duckweed on hog farms could not only clean up animal waste but provide a biofuel energy stock with five to six times more starch per acre than corn, according to researchers at North Carolina State University.

That means duckweed could become an ethanol source that’s “faster and cheaper than from corn,” said researcher Anne-Marie Stomp.

“We can kill two birds — biofuel production and wastewater treatment — with one stone: duckweed,” said researcher Jay Cheng. What’s more, he added, duckweed starch could easily be processed in facilities that currently produce corn-based ethanol.

Unlike corn, duckweed doesn’t raise the spectre of trading food for fuel, as corn does. Growing the plant for fuel could at the same time address the serious problem of livestock-based wastewater pollution.

Industrial-scale hog farms currently store animal waste in large open-air “lagoons” that contribute to air pollution. Duckweed can use the nutrients in that waste to reduce that pollution and clean the water.

“There’s a bias in agriculture that all the crops that could be discovered have been discovered,” said Stomp. “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.”

The two researchers are currently creating a pilot-scale project to determine the best way to build large-scale systems for growing duckweed on animal wastewater, then harvesting and drying the duckweed.

Greenbang

  • Oliver

    October 23, 2009 #1 Author

    “Unlike corn, duckweed doesn’t raise the spectre of trading food for fuel, as corn does.”

    The specter (fear) of food for fuel is a myth raised by the Petroleum Institute as a scare tactic to keep America enslaved by oil.

    The removal of starch from corn or Duckweed during the distillation process only improves its quality as food.

    Reply

  • lewis

    October 27, 2009 #2 Author

    Yet ANOTHER crop that promises the world to ethanol investors.

    I´t be SO easy just to plant sugar cane, which is a PROVEN technology…!

    But America will NEVER bow to a fact that a 3rd world country was able to attain its oil independence because of a crop it chose over 3 decades ago.

    So everyday we get one of these smoke and mirrors crops that are nowhere to be found after a couple of months of media noise….

    Reply

  • Ken

    December 26, 2009 #3 Author

    The point is not whether or not certain crops may be more practical in certain locations, the POINT is that duckweed grows almost everywhere and is VERY easy to use to remove nutrients from water.
    It is often far easier to obtain, far easier to propogate, and far more effective at removing nutrients. Duckweed also has a very high protein and amino acid content along with its high starch. Few plants are as easy to grow and easy to handle while having such high levels of protein, starch, fiber, and trace nutrients. Under decent conditions it grows fast enough to double its mass each day, and it is far easier to cover a trench with a tarp than to cover sugar cane. BTW, how well does sugar cane grow in Canada? How well does it work at purifying water in northern regions?

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