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July 16, 2009

Technology is key for biofuel success

A U.S. study indicates it takes more than efficient equipment to make renewable energies cost-effective, with technological advances essential to the effort.

The research, led by Richard Hess of the Idaho National Laboratory, is a cost-analysis of the steps involved in the corn stover supply chain. Corn stover consists of the stalks, leaves and cobs that remain after corn is harvested.

The United States is increasing the use of lignocellulosic biomass, of which corn stover is a substantial source, Hess said. He and his colleagues looked at the corn supply system and determined to what extent conventional technologies can make the system more efficient.

The research found improved new technologies and new supply system designs are necessary to address the challenges posed by the properties of the materials themselves.

The findings are presented as part of a series of articles in the August issue of the journal Cellulose.