Liquid biofuels from grass and wood can benefit the environment if managed correctly

Entomologist Doug Landis is part of a team led by MSU’s Phil Robertson that reports correctly managed, cellulosic biofuels, or liquid energy derived from grasses and wood, which could be an environmentally sustainable source for energy needs.

July 6, 2017

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Entomologist Doug Landis is part of a team led by MSU’s Phil Robertson that reports correctly managed, cellulosic biofuels, or liquid energy derived from grasses and wood, which could be an environmentally sustainable source for energy needs. The team of researchers, part of the U.S. Department of Energy-funded Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, published their findings recently in a review for the journal Science.

“The climate benefit of cellulosic biofuels is actually much greater than was originally thought,” said Robertson, MSU Distinguished Professor of Ecosystem Science and lead author on the study. “But that benefit depends crucially on several different factors, all of which we need to understand to get right.”

Although not yet a market force, cellulosic biofuels are routinely factored into future climate mitigation scenarios because of their potential to both displace petroleum use and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Those benefits, however, are complicated by the need for vast amounts of land to produce cellulosic biofuels on a large scale.

“The sustainability question is largely about the impact of using millions of acres of U.S. land to grow biofuel crops,” Robertson said. “Can we do that without threatening global food security, diminishing biodiversity or reducing groundwater supplies? How much more fertilizer would we use? What are the tradeoffs for real climate benefit, and are there synergies we can promote?”

Read more at MSU Today: Cellulosic biofuels can benefit the environment if managed correctly


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