There’s a ton of useful material left behind the combine. Actually it’s millions of tons, and much of that leftover crop residue in fields comes in handy as nutrients and cover in minimum tillage systems. But not all of it needs to be left behind. Matt Darr, an associate professor in the Ag and Biosystems Engineering Department at Iowa State University, has some interesting numbers about the logistics necessary to harvest corn stover for biomass fuel production. For instance, to support a 25 to 30 million gallon plant takes plenty of stover. And a car with decent mileage can roll 1,000 miles on the fuel produced by a bale of stover.
Several facilities produce ethanol on pilot scale now, but both POET and DuPont plan to be producing on a commercial scale this year. Darr thinks they’re on to something.