See more from this Session: Bioenergy Production, Modeling, Sustainability, and Policy
If we're willing to develop it; Our data strongly suggests that it is!
We've hypothesized that if we select the site specific phenotype with the most productive reproductive sink, provide its mature chloroplasts with a more uniform vertical distribution of the solar catalyst, and provide its most productive specific supporting practices; more CO2 will be utilized to produce more ethanol feedstock per unit area.... If one of you would run the protocol proposed in The Solar Corridor Hypothesis (Deichman &(R)Nelson in '07 Annual Meetings) to see if our results may be replicated, we most likely would pass a significant peer review benchmark. One operational version of the model follows: In the fall, drill 1/2 of the field with winter wheat in alternating 30 inch swaths of 3 ten inch rows of wheat and leave 3 rows fallow. In the winter, seed clover or equivalent rhizobium host into the wheat swath. In early spring, plant a twin row of a specifically selected corn variety with its own variety specific supporting practices, exactly in the center of the fallow swaths. With no impact on corn yield being the controlling parameter, the wheat swath could be modified or substituted by other crops of equivalent parameters. We will present extensive data on corn yield, differential hybrid (split by population) responses & the methodology we used to select and grow the second crop without impacting corn yield. Agronomic practices to maximize the productivity of this new production paradigm could then become a challenging and worthy new site specific focus for agronomists; atmospheric, plant and soil scientists; geneticists: entomologists and practitioners of multiple bio and ag engineering disciplines.
The operational aspects (on the front end of the 360 degree ethanol process) has another set of challenges, which we will address. Indeed, beginning with our original mandate and throughout our studies we've taken the operational constraints into account. The popularity of and availability of 30 inch corn equipment is the reason we've illustrated the 30 inch model above. If the grower uses 36-38 inch rows, we have similar performance data that can be used without major corn equipment changes. In this version, the wheat harvest is the only operation that requires major mechanical change.
The back end of the life cycle process, beginning at the scale house of the refinery, is fully capable of producing at the 1000 gallon benchmark, without any change of current technology.What we need are more ethanol production facilities of current design efficiencies. After reviewing the data, an astute observer can envision a tremendous new potential to produce the 1000 gal of anhydrous equivilent alcohol per corn acre, at a much improved energy balance and at a lower life cycle cost, without any of the anticipated process efficiency gains at this (back) end of the 360 process.
The paradigm shift, extra effort expended by more workers and the subsequent research required (and to be proposed) seems like a small price to pay to see if we can produce enough ethanol feedstock to produce 1000 gallon per corn acre on 40-45 million corn acres without decreasing our current food supply, other ethanol feedstock supply or rain forest acres.
Indeed, Our sustainability and quality of life depends on it.