Resources and the Environment
James A. Duffield, Guest Editor
James A. Duffield
As recently as the early 1900s, energy sources around the world were mostly agriculturally derived and industrial products were primarily made from plant matter. Early motor fuels also came from agriculture — Henry Ford used ethanol in his original engine and Rudolf Diesel's engine could run on peanut oil. By 1920, petroleum emerged as the dominant energy source for transportation fuels and industrial products. For over 80 years, the United States and other industrialized countries have relied on petroleum as an economical and dependable source of energy. However, this reliance on petroleum is becoming a major issue as our domestic oil supplies shrink and our dependence on oil imports grows. The papers in this session will look at agriculture's current role as an energy producer and explore opportunities for agriculture as our Nation struggles to secure its energy future.
James A. Duffield and Keith Collins
U.S. energy polices have been and will continue to be critical to the development of the renewable fuels industry. The most recent energy legislation passed by Congress with major provisions aimed at increasing renewable energy production are the 2002 farm bill that contained the first energy title in farm bill history and the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
Vernon R. Eidman
Ethanol produced from grain and biodiesel produced from vegetable oils, animal fats, and grease are the main renewable liquid fuels in the United States. A vibrant ethanol industry has been established over the past 15 years; however, the biodiesel industry is just now emerging. While the market demand for these fuels will continue to grow, their production potential is limited.
Paul W. Gallagher
With its corn resource, the U.S. ethanol industry is limited; however, expanding the resource base to include biomass production from agricultural land has the potential to supply a significant fraction of national fuel consumption. The realization of biomass ethanol depends on increased investment in processing technology, with emphasis on proven technologies that can be optimized for specific forms of biomass.
James R. Fischer, Janine A. Finnell, and Brian D. Lavoie
Examining the current U.S. energy situation suggests that there may be several opportunities for agriculture to lead the country in a new direction where energy is clean, abundant, reliable, and affordable. New technologies are harnessing energy from solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass that can be used both on and off the farm. Achieving this new energy future will require continued Government and industry research.
Roger Conway and Marvin R. Duncan
Research by itself is not sufficient to bring bioproduct production technology to commercialization. A bioproducts industry has not been realized because there has likely been underinvestment in other steps required to commercialize bioproducts. A systems approach that incorporates testing, regulation, finance, and education and outreach is the key to developing a widespread market for bioproducts.
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