Inside December 2007

Features

Fortifying Fuel Cell Technology

BY Jessica EbertScientists have known for nearly a century that certain bacteria can convert organic material into electricity. Only recently though, have microbiologists and engineers worked to exploit this phenomenon in the development of microbial fuel cells for powering environmental monitoring devices and treating wastewater. READ MORE

The Power of High-Strength H2O

BY Ron KotrbaThe future of wastewater treatment is being designed in Pennsylvania, where the Milton Regional Sewer Authority's plant plans to upgrade its antiquated aerobic water treatment process. The technologies penciled into this design of tomorrow aren't new, but the designers are billing it as the world's first wastewater-to-energy project. READ MORE

Taming the Wild Cuphea

BY Susanne Retka SchillCuphea has been in development as an industrial crop for a number of years. Once the oilseed reaches commercial viability it could replace imported oils and petroleum as a source for capric and lauric acids used in the production of manufacturing surfactants, detergents, lubricants, personal care products and other specialty chemicals. READ MORE

Biomass in a Tube

BY Jerry W. KramBiomass will play an increasing role in filling the world's demand for energy and chemicals. Producing enough biomass will take land and lots of it. As Will Rogers said when advising people to buy land, "They ain't making more of the stuff." Harvesting more biomass per acre for food and fuel to feed and run a growing world population is the key, and microscopic algae may be a major player. READ MORE

Adding Value to Wheat Straw

BY Anduin Kirkbride McElroyWyoming-based Heartland BioComposites LLC makes composite fencing from wheat straw and recyclable plastic. Though the manufacturing facility is located in an arid region of the country biomass sourcing has been easy. READ MORE

Contributions

Breaking Down Walls

BY Erin K. PeabodyBasic research on plant cell walls promises to boost not only dairy efficiency, but biofuels production as well. USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists may be on the edge of a breakthrough. READ MORE

Industry News

In the Lab