Region 8 Fuels Alternative Fuel Research

February 1, 2006--Posted at 5:00 pm CST

Jonesboro, AR--With a little luck the search for black gold could switch to the natural state.  Of course the gold would change from black to green.  We are talking about the process of taking regular plants and turning them into tomorrow’s fuel.  That is what researchers at the Arkansas State University Biosciences Lab are working on each day, and they say the technology is already proven to work.


You may wonder how a scientist decided they could use grass to fuel tomorrow’s cars and trucks along with heat your home in the future.  The answer is not the grass itself but what is in the grass.  Each blade of grass contains complex sugars created by the interaction with the sun.  These sugars can be processed into ethanol.  Right now the process is expensive but everyday that expense decreases.


“Grass is one of the most untapped energy sources in the world.” Head researcher Elizabeth Hood said.  “Obviously NEA is a prime place due to the agriculture in place here.”


Alternative fuels are in the public spotlight right now after recent comments from President George Bush at the State of the Union Speech.  He called America ‘Addicted to Oil’ adding he wants to see more money given to researchers like Dr. Hood in order to wean Americans off of their dependence.


While Hood is working hard on the process of turning grass and crops into fuel, others are hard at work on competing technologies.  One of those is bio-diesel, another cutting edge industry with a facility and plant right here running out of Batesville.  Other competing technologies include hydrogen, using water densities, and even turning chicken fat into fuel.


The main surprise isn’t that these technologies are now here, but how soon they could be used daily in our lives.  Dr. Hood says with the current pace of technology she expects to see technologies like hers in everyday use within five years.