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Plants and Fuel

Experimental studies by Cedar Creek scientists revealed that high-diversity mixtures of perennial prairie plants grown on nutrient-poor lands with no fertilization or irrigation have potential for use as a biofuel crop. Such a crop could offers many advantages over food-crop based biofuels, including net carbon storage, lower land use requirements, and reduced particulate emissions.

Hill, J.; Nelson, E.; Tilman, D.; Polasky, S.; Tiffany, D. 2006. Environmental, economic, and energetic costs and benefits of biodiesel and ethanol biofuels. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 103:11206-11210.
Tilman, D.; Hill, J.; Lehman, C. 2006. Carbon-negative biofuels from low-input high-diversity grassland biomass. SCIENCE 314:1598-1600.
Tilman, D.; Hill, J.; Lehman, C.; 2007 Response to comment on "Carbon-negative biofuels from low-input high-diversity grassland biomass". SCIENCE 316:1598-1600.
Tilman, D; Socolow, R; Foley, J; Hill, J; Larson, E; Lynd, L; S, Pacala; Reilly, J; Searchinger, T; Somerville, C; Williams, R; 2009 Beneficial biofuels - the food, energy, and environment trilemma. Science 325:270
Tilman, D; Socolow, R; Foley, J; Hill, J; Larson, E; Lynd, L; S, Pacala; Reilly, J; Searchinger, T; Somerville, C; Williams, R; Beneficial biofuels - the food, energy, and environment trilemma. 2009. Science 325:270 2009
Fargione, J; Hill, J; Tilman, D; Polasky, S; Hawthorne, P, "Land clearing and the biofuel carbon debt", SCIENCE, p. 1235, vol. 319, 10.1126/science.115274 2008
Fargione, J; Hill, J; Tilman, D; Polasky, S; Hawthorne, P, "Biofuels: Putting current practices in perspective - Response", SCIENCE, p. 1420, vol. 320 2008
Fargione, J; Hill, J; Tilman, D; Polasky, S; Hawthorne, P, "Biofuels: Effects on land and fire - Response", SCIENCE, p. 199, vol. 321. Published 2008
Hill, J; Polasky, S; Nelson, E; Tilman, D; Huo, H; Ludwig, L; J, Neumann; Zheng, H; Bonta, D; Climate change and health costs of air emissions from biofuels and gasoline. 2009. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106:2077 2009
Tilman, D; Socolow, R; Foley, J; Hill, J; Larson, E; Lynd, L; S, Pacala; Reilly, J; Searchinger, T; Somerville, C; Williams, R; Biofuels: Steer clear of degraded lands-Response. 2009. Science 326:1346 2009
Dave Tilman
Graduate Student Jacob Jungers looks to the future atop prairie biofuel bales.
David Tilman
Effects of plant diversity on biomass energy yield and CO2 sequestration for low-input perennial grasslands. (A) Gross energy content of harvested aboveground biomass (2003–2005 plot averages) increases with plant species number. (B) Ratio of mean biomass energy production of 16-species (LIHD) treatment to means of each lower diversity treatment. Diverse plots became increasingly more productive over time. (C) Annual net increase in soil organic carbon (expressed as mass of CO2 sequestered in upper 60 cm of soil) increases with plant diversity as does (D) annual net sequestration of atmospheric carbon (as mass of CO2) in roots of perennial plant species. Solid curved lines are log fits; dashed curved lines give 95% confidence intervals for these fits.
Tilman- et al Science 2006

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