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Cheaper Fuel From Self-Destructing Trees

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the larch-powered dept.

Power 112

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Wood is great for building and heating homes, but it's the bane of biofuels. When converting plants to fuels, engineers must remove a key component of wood, known as lignin, to get to the sugary cellulose that's fermented into alcohols and other energy-rich compounds. That's costly because it normally requires high temperatures and caustic chemicals. Now, researchers in the United States and Canada have modified the lignin in poplar trees to self-destruct under mild processing conditions—a trick that could slash the cost of turning plant biomass into biofuels."

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Wood fuel (4, Funny)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 7 months ago | (#46658031)

Got wood, eh?

Re:Wood fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658133)

Didn't Earthbound (Mother 2 to weeaboos) do this first?

Just when the American trees are under attack ... (1, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 7 months ago | (#46658303)

Trees in America and Europe are dying in large number due to infestation from foreign bugs / diseases / viruses

Examples of the diseases / bugs / viruses are Chestnut Bright, Emerald Ash Borer, Asian long-horned beetle, Spruce Needle Cast Disease, and so on.

And those boffins are tinkering with even more American trees so that they become self-destructive more easily??

Re:Just when the American trees are under attack . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658527)

Wow, you have no understanding of science.

Oh wait, it's Taco Cowboy. no news there.

Re:Just when the American trees are under attack . (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46660225)

Wow, you have no understanding of science.

Sounds more like you're the one who has no understanding of science.

Taco Cowboy is expressing skepticism about this, a core tenant of science.

Meanwhile, you're making an assertion without providing any evidence to back up your reasoning, a core tenant not of science, but of religion.

Personally, I'm a little skeptical too. How does it work? How bad would it be if it got out into the wild? Can it even get out into the wild? If it can, and if it would be bad, what could we do to contain the problem?

Re:Just when the American trees are under attack . (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46660779)

Taco Cowboy is expressing skepticism about this, a core tenant of science.

Meanwhile, you're making an assertion without providing any evidence to back up your reasoning, a core tenant not of science, but of religion.

You keep using that word. [merriam-webster.com] I don't think it means what you think it means. [merriam-webster.com]

I'll give a pass on voila/viola, and rogue/rouge, since those might just be typos, but I gotta draw the line somewhere. It really detaches from your argument when you use the wrong word.

-- A tenant of a tenement who knows the difference between "tenant" and "tenet".

Re:Just when the American trees are under attack . (3, Informative)

h5inz (1284916) | about 7 months ago | (#46661183)

Whether science or not science, who cares. The Taco Cowboy's comment is just stupid. What is it exactly what he is worried about? First of all they will self destruct under processing conditions. Will the modified poplars take over the world and then mutate to self destruct without assistance or will these self-destruction genes drift to other subspecies of poplars? The self destruction, if it happened without any processing, would not be a feature that made a tree fit for survival, common sense says - so these genes wouldn't prevail anyway then.

Re:Just when the American trees are under attack . (4, Funny)

mjwx (966435) | about 7 months ago | (#46658621)

Which is exactly why the US need 'Splodin trees.

2nd Amendment Rights

Well armed forest, take that treehuggers.

Re:Just when the American trees are under attack . (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about 7 months ago | (#46659613)

Interesting that a majority of species of trees in the US are also of foreign origin.

Re:Just when the American trees are under attack . (1)

budgenator (254554) | about 7 months ago | (#46663439)

Poplar trees are basicaly weeds, they grow fast, are invasive, die quickly and are easily pushed out by more stable trees; don't worry about them.

Lets do it the Old Testament way! (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 7 months ago | (#46664009)

Except for hoping for God to give us a burning bush that doesn't get consumed in flames, we genetically make our own!

bio fuel? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658103)

Wood is biofuel. There is a device http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/13/10/20/0549231/carbon-negative-energy-machines-catching-on which when paired with a dense wood like Robinia pseudoacacia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robinia_pseudoacacia which has as much energy as anthacite coal and when harvested dumps nitrogen into the soil so that other plants grow faster and it grows back faster than it did the first time. So why can't all our power sources be food producing, fertilzer producing, erosion stopping, medicine producing, ecology improving, and sustainable?

Re:bio fuel? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 months ago | (#46658285)

You are aware just how many companies would suffer from that? There are jobs at stake, to hell with the planet!

Re:bio fuel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658985)

The planet is fine. The people are fucked.

Re:bio fuel? (0)

Mashiki (184564) | about 7 months ago | (#46659483)

You are aware just how many companies would suffer from that? There are jobs at stake, to hell with the planet!

Funny, I thought that the environmentalists would be the ones throwing a hissy fit over it. After all, in the US you import the majority of your wood from Canada...because of insane EPA regulations, while here in Canada we have a good policy of select harvest, select clear cutting, and replanting policies.

Re:bio fuel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46660317)

Don't know about the reg's but forests are not always good, if done right wood is carbon neutral, but high intensity production of replacement saplings like those used in clear-cut and replace can use a surprising amount of oil (and money). Such replacement is financially worthwhile for paper and construction material as you get more wood per land, but for fuel you need tighter cost control and green fuel is more of an issue still.

Re:bio fuel? (1)

some old guy (674482) | about 7 months ago | (#46659901)

Who cares about jobs? There are profits at stake!

Re:bio fuel? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 months ago | (#46663255)

Yes, sure, but you don't actually say it like that. That's something someone could object to. But dare to object to protecting jobs!

Re:bio fuel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46659441)

Well, you could actually read the link you post:

"In 1900 it was reported that the value of Robinia pseudoacacia was practically destroyed in nearly all parts of the United States beyond the mountain forests which are its home by locust borers which riddle the trunk and branches. Were it not for these insects, it would be one of the most valuable timber trees that could be planted in the northern and middle states. Young trees grow quickly and vigorously for a number of years, but soon become stunted and diseased, and rarely live long enough to attain any commercial value"

Re:bio fuel? (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 7 months ago | (#46659627)

You don't need an unstunted tree for fuel. Having said that, we've just cleaned our garden of these effing trees a week ago. They're a nightmare around here in Europe.

Re:bio fuel? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 7 months ago | (#46659669)

You know, somehow I still think that thermal depolymerization is a better process for larger applications.

Re:bio fuel? (1)

budgenator (254554) | about 7 months ago | (#46663755)

Probably would be but the company that owns the patents either aren't licensing to others or isn't able to interest companies with pockets deep enough to buy licences. I believe the key patents will run out in about 5 or 6 years now.

Pollution is desirable, of course. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46661411)

It's well understood that America's power and glory rests on her freedoms.

And by that I mean the restriction and (when possible) elimination of all things free of cost. We FAIL as a NATION when citizens don't have to pay for things, because when citizens don't have to work, they become morally corrupt, and very likely to stop attending church or vote Socialist. If people don't have to work hard every day of their lives, we'll be no better than the filthy, Godless Europeans. Why do you think Roger Ailes pays dozens of astroturfers to post to so-called "free" software forums? Free of cost is the opposite of freedom - and we all know that freedom is obedience to the law.

When clean air and clean water are freely available, it subverts the American way. It's our patriotic duty it pollute as much as possible - sure, mountain top removal and fracking are more expensive and difficult than carbon-neutral biofuel production or wind farm construction, but neither of those helps get bums off the street and into the cancer wards; wind and wood just don't pollute enough to be desirable. We need more coal, more fracking, and more tar sands to keep America great, we need to get to the point where every family has to purchase air and water on the free market from one of the many large corporations that make America the finest nation in the world.

Centralia [republicanherald.com] is the great shrine of American economic philosophy; a permanent, self-sustaining source of pollution for the future! We should all thank Saints Rand and Reagan that God has given us the blessing of Centralia.

America! Freedom! Pollution! Fight for the filthy skies, it's your birthright!

Wood IS fuel (3, Insightful)

Lodlaiden (2767969) | about 7 months ago | (#46658139)

Apply heat and O2 to complete fire triangle.

Re:Wood IS fuel (4, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 7 months ago | (#46658791)

But not a very good one. The energy to weight ratio sucks, it leaves large amounts of ash, and, being solid, can't be used in any of the myriad applications that require liquid or gaseous fuel. The problems with energy to weight and ash are large enough that as soon as coal mining was developed, coal almost completely replaced wood in people's fireplaces and stoves (until coal itself was replaced by gas and electricty and fireplaces by central heating). It's also quite polluting, as a matter of fact.

Re:Wood IS fuel (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 7 months ago | (#46659377)

being solid, can't be used in any of the myriad applications that require liquid or gaseous fuel

That's not a significant problem for use, it's much more of an issue for transport. Gas and oil can be transported long distances through pipes, with just the occasional pump along the way to give it a boost. Wood has to be stacked onto trucks and then transported along roads or railways. You can't just turn on a tap in a house and have wood come out, so everyone needs a wood shed or equivalent to store it, taking up a lot of space.

Apply heat and *NO* O2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46659723)

You get biochar, oil and producer gas out.

Plenty of examples of this on Youtube.

The biochar gets dug into the soil, improving the properties and locking up carbon nearly permanently. The oil and gas are sold.

It is energy positive - essentially solar power.
It locks up carbon, if that's really the problem the weather forecasters think it is.
It produces usable fuels - oils and gases.
It improves soil properties which have been damaged by over intensive farming methods.
It's really cheap and simple to do, anyone with an oil drum can do it.

Re:Apply heat and *NO* O2 (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 7 months ago | (#46659945)

That sounds horribly inefficient.

You're using heat from somewhere to make the oil and gas, but not convert all of the carbon in the wood.

Then you take a subset of the carbon and burn it in the form of oil and gas.

Re:Wood IS fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46661109)

The problems with energy to weight and ash are large enough that as soon as coal mining was developed, coal almost completely replaced wood in people's fireplaces and stoves (until coal itself was replaced by gas and electricty and fireplaces by central heating).

Not challenging your points regarding energy density and ash disposal, but surely price and availability played roles in the replacement of wood with coal.

Re:Methanol (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 7 months ago | (#46661531)

FFS, why do we have this ethanol fetish? Just make methanol instead, so you don't have to worry about lignin in the first place.

I know, I know... Monsanto gets massive gubmint kickbacks for growing corn, not trees. But the rest of us can run our cars on methanol just as easily as ethanol (assuming you've got a fully flex-fuel vehicle). Last time I checked, methanol was selling for about $1.50/gal. Granted, it's only 80% as energy dense as gasoline, but that's still a pretty good bargain at current prices.

There was talk a few years ago about an "Open Fuel Standard Act" in Congress, but it didn't pass. This really ought to be resurrected. It would simply require that all (or most) cars sold in the USA would be fully flex-fuel capable. (If done at the factory, this only adds about $100 to the cost of the vehicle... several times more if you do a conversion later.) The point would be to put real competition into the market for transportation fuels. This would drive down the price of petroleum and break the current monopoly.

Re:Wood IS fuel (3, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 7 months ago | (#46658995)

Apply heat and O2 to complete fire triangle.

Well, you’re obviously being totally naive of course. When you’ve been in marketing as long as I have, you'll know that before any new product can be developed it has to be properly researched. We’ve got to find out what people want from fire, how they relate to it, what sort of image it has for them.

Do people want fire that can be fitted nasally?

If you're so clever, you tell us what color fire should be.

Re:Wood IS fuel (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 7 months ago | (#46659365)

So is crude oil. So why not throw it straight into your car engine?

Gasification (5, Interesting)

do_be_jack (3603697) | about 7 months ago | (#46658183)

combine gasification generators with a nitrogen fixing energy rich wood like Robina pseudoacacia,which grows back faster and makes surrounding plants grow better after it is cut, planted around fruit trees and other useful species and then the act of harvesting wood makes plants grow and the act of generating electricity makes fertilizer. With the right generator http://www.cnet.com/news/carbo... [cnet.com] there is only a positive environmental impact to the harvesting and generating of energy which when used in conjunction with a food/medicine forest http://www.beaconfoodforest.or... [beaconfoodforest.org] you have good hunting beautiful landscape and no reason to leave home. There are food forests around which are over 2000 years old still going and no one knows who planted them.

Re:Gasification (-1, Offtopic)

Grosir Batik (3603843) | about 7 months ago | (#46658471)

Considering Republicans have already... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658203)

banned this, why bother talking about it?

People will just complain (1)

zippo01 (688802) | about 7 months ago | (#46658245)

people will now just complain that their doesn't have a GMO label. :-p

So why use trees? (2, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about 7 months ago | (#46658255)

If all you want is the cellulose and fiber, hemp produces paper-quality fiber at nearly 4 times the rate per acre/year as even poplar trees do.

Oh, right. Gotta keep all those woodchippers employed. :(

Re:So why use trees? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 months ago | (#46658297)

And hemp's baaaad, mmmkay?

Re:So why use trees? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658421)

If you actually read TFA you will find that they have succeeded in a trial using poplar trees, but they are now working on corn that has the modified lignin.

And while you wonder about hemp, I wonder about algae. Algae doesn't bother to produce support structures and you can grow a "crop" in ten days rather than a year. We need to improve our technologies for "bioreactors" (I think they tend to get plugged up) and we need to improve the process for converting algae to fuel (algae is wet and it has a high energy cost to remove the water as part of making a fuel).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algae_fuel [wikipedia.org]

I wonder if thermal depolymerization can be used to convert algae to fuel?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_depolymerization [wikipedia.org]

Alas, TDP doesn't seem to have worked out as well as hoped. I remember reading excited news stories about offal being turned into clean diesel, but the company that tried it lost money and shut down.

Re:So why use trees? (3, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | about 7 months ago | (#46658575)

algae has many great aspect. It's achilles heels are 1) separation is very expensive 2) it's hard to get enough C02 into the water to do this at scale 3) it can get infected easily 3) inhomgenous growth requires active stiring or other tricks to bring a pond to harvest all at the same time 4) it's not that fast to grow-- poplars and switch grass are more efficient bio mass producers. Ethanol can be made from waste products too.

The upside of algae is that were starting to learn how to use some of it's byproducts and this offsets the costs. and incremental progress is being made on all these aspects. We haven't been growing algae as long as plants so there's potential headroom to grow. It can grow in seawater. lipids are better fuel than alchohol. And finally it's potentially less energetically expensive to sperarate lipids from water than alchohol from water. That step accounts for something like 1/3 of the cost of ethanol.

Re:So why use trees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46660581)

In regards to separation, why couldn't Thermal Depolymerization be used with the Algae-in-solution as-is?

The Changing World Technologies TDP system requires a lot of water.
The algae-in-water looks perfect as a feed stock for such a system.

Of course, I'm not a biochemist, so I have no idea if there are other challenges, but I've never heard any reports considering this approach.

Re:So why use trees? (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 7 months ago | (#46659139)

And while you wonder about hemp, I wonder about algae. Algae doesn't bother to produce support structures and you can grow a "crop" in ten days rather than a year.

And while you wonder about algae I recognize that burning things is bad, and wonder about improving the efficiency of extracting energy directly from the sunlight itself.

Re:So why use trees? (3, Interesting)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about 7 months ago | (#46659357)

Storage is a problem with sunlight. Burnable fuels do not have that problem.

Re:So why use trees? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46660325)

Biofuels *ARE* the storage medium for sunlight.

Re:So why use trees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46662625)

As are fossil fuels.

Re:So why use trees? (1)

Steve Hamlin (29353) | about 7 months ago | (#46663621)

Burning isn't always bad.

Burning carbon sources that are the accumulation of millions of years of photosynthesis is bad, because you are net-adding carbon to the atmosphere.

Efficiently burning renewable carbon sources (while controlling other embedded pollutants) is not so bad, because over a reasonable timeframe you are merely putting carbon into the atmosphere that your fuel sources took out several years before; rinse & repeat, with little effect on long-term atmospheric carbon pollution.

Re:So why use trees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658545)

Yeah, and Kenaf is even better, but it doesn't get you high.

Yeah, I like smoking weed too, but Jesus, give the disingenuous agenda a rest already.

Re:So why use trees? (1)

3.5 stripes (578410) | about 7 months ago | (#46659123)

Hibiscus cannabinus ? Maybe you can slip it by the hppies that way..

Misleading title (1)

axlash (960838) | about 7 months ago | (#46658269)

The article isn't really about making biofuel from self-destructing trees. It's about introducing the mechanism through which the lignin (in the trees) destructs to other crops that grow much faster and leave a lot of waste, like corn.

Personally, I think that sourcing energy from biofuel will never really scale, anyway...

Evolving parasites. (3, Insightful)

quantaman (517394) | about 7 months ago | (#46658277)

My gut says the reason it's so hard to deal with the current form of ligin is parasites would have evolved to eat anything simpler. Do they have any strategy for preventing parasites from finding the trick to breaking down the ligin in these modified trees?

Either way it does sounds pretty cool.

Re:Evolving parasites. (2)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about 7 months ago | (#46659369)

That is one of the things that is safe to test in the field. Maybe it isn't a problem at all, and if it is then the problem solves itself.

Re:Evolving parasites. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46661165)

It's not really safe to test in the field because the trait of "parasite vulnerability" could be recessive. If it leaks into the population of poplar trees, you've basically introduced a genetic disease into the population of poplar trees. Sure, it would die out eventually by natural selection, but very slowly, and if we keep introducing new diseased pollen that will never happen.

The diseased trees could be hazardous to people and property and could spread unwanted parasites.

When it gets into the wild (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658291)

I suspect that bacteria will adapt to take advantage of these "new mild processing conditions", because to them it might mean that it's suddenly easier to get the good stuff.

But I think these researchers should just design the trees to grow a shiny self-destruct button when they're of age - would make for some great youtube vids in a decade or so :P

So use bacteria or molds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658305)

Dead wood left to rot gets a light and sort-of rubbery and spongy consistence and falls apart rather easily. Now I can't vouch for whether it's the cellulose or the lignin that's gone, but it's clear that some core component is being removed in that process.

So you either harvest the remaining component or the biomass or its degradables that are doing the decomposing.

Frost 4Ist... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658321)

aashole about.' One of BSD/OS. A bombshell hit offended some first organization failure, its corpse

Why corn? (4, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 7 months ago | (#46658347)

Ralph says his team is already working to insert zip-lignins into corn plants.

I know we grow a lot of corn, but why not insert the gene into kudzu or some other fast growing weed that thrives on marginal land with low fertilizer inputs?
It's not like we don't already have a use for every part of the corn plant.

Re:Why corn? (1)

E-Rock (84950) | about 7 months ago | (#46658501)

I like that plan, it also means you don't have to worry about any potential impact if the strain enters the food supply.

Re:Why corn? (2)

ruir (2709173) | about 7 months ago | (#46658711)

Corn plantation is heavily paid with subsidies...

Re:Why corn? ... and not dandelions (1)

fygment (444210) | about 7 months ago | (#46660415)

Lord knows there are tons of those buggers in this god-forsaken neighbourhood !! If only they were useful for something more than wine.

Re:Why corn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46663181)

I don't know for sure but my theory is that more study has been done on Corn than kudzu. So the scientists know exactly where to insert the modification for lignin for the corn to be effective.

Another possible reason is that corn has been used for biofuels in the past, so there are already processing plants, distribution channels, etc. that can be used.

Your mission Jim, should you choose to accept it. (3, Funny)

mjwx (966435) | about 7 months ago | (#46658359)

This tree will self destruct in 5 seconds.

Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658413)

Does this mean I can buy a exploding baseball bat to make home run hits Stephen Chow style?

Use trees as carbon sinks (1)

nbritton (823086) | about 7 months ago | (#46658553)

A giant saquioa can sequester over 2000 tons of carbon from the air and live for 2500 years.

If you planted 1 million of these trees you could sequester 2,000,000,000 tons of carbon for 2500 years! If you plant enough of these sequoias you could literally sequester all the United States's excess CO2 for 2500 years.

2500 years is a hell of a long time for us to design and perfect new technologies that can better solve are carbon crisis.

Re:Use trees as carbon sinks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658691)

That's pretty bad.
Far better to choose some fast growing tree so you can chop them down every ten years and throw them in a an unused mine.
It doesn't matter if the tree is alive for 2500 years, as long as you don't burn it.

Re:Use trees as carbon sinks (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46659881)

And in millions of years, the unused mine will be full of oil! This plan is like win-win-win

Re:Use trees as carbon sinks (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 7 months ago | (#46660061)

Assuming that those trees do that sequestration thing instantly (they don't - it takes centuries for a sequoia to grow that large), we're talking about removing ~0.06% of the current CO2 levels from the atmosphere by doing what you describe.

Which means that in just a century, we can lower atmospheric CO2 from today's level to last week's level....

Mother of all wildfires (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658555)

So, once this genetic defect - I mean modification - crosses the line and goes wild (although Monsanto tells us it never happens), how fast and hot will those forests burn?

Uuuuuuh.... what? (-1)

Simon Brooke (45012) | about 7 months ago | (#46658573)

Cut tree down, cut tree up, stack it in a shed for two years to dry, burn it, spread the resultant ash on the garden. That's processing, I suppose, And there's labour involved, which you might consider costly. But you don't need caustic chemicals, and the only high temperatures involved go to heating your house, which is what fuel is all about.

Why not go out and invent something actually useful?

Re:Uuuuuuh.... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658619)

That would be going against currently valid ideology that all alternative energy sources have to be inefficient and requirepaying the indystry heavy fees while keeping control safely in their hands. I think you are a terrorist.

Re:Uuuuuuh.... what? (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 7 months ago | (#46658723)

Funny sir, funny. A Deviant?

Global warming warning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658719)

Those trees are liable to self-destruct some summer!

'Climate change' nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658859)

More 'carbon carbon carbon' 'climate climate climate' bullshit.
'Bio'fuels are the most inefficient use of vegetation there is. THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE ON THE PLANET. That is all there is to it. Billions of worthless, selfish, unhappy human beings - not all of us, but a large proportion, living miserable, shitty lives, killing and torturing animals (presumably you aren't vegan, so yes, that means you, and you couldn't care less). You should look up what 'dysgenics' is...

Too many people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46660793)

Only morons say that. Anything out of your mouth is moronic.

Re:'Climate change' nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46661241)

More 'carbon carbon carbon' 'climate climate climate' bullshit. 'Bio'fuels are the most inefficient use of vegetation there is. THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE ON THE PLANET. That is all there is to it. Billions of worthless, selfish, unhappy human beings - not all of us, but a large proportion, living miserable, shitty lives, killing and torturing animals (presumably you aren't vegan, so yes, that means you, and you couldn't care less). You should look up what 'dysgenics' is...

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
I suggest you start by offing yourself.
Be an hero.

stupid topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658905)

what have trees got to do with computers? I need to find a real tech site about computers and stuff.

yea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46658981)

Use pot/weed marajuana, the reason the feds have a cry baby fit over moonshine and pot, they are also a Damn good fuel.

Re:yea (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 7 months ago | (#46662345)

Use pot/weed marajuana, the reason the feds have a cry baby fit over moonshine and pot, they are also a Damn good fuel.

It might make people actually WANT a power plant in their neighborhood.

Wood for biofuels? Slow and wasteful. (3, Interesting)

TrentTheThief (118302) | about 7 months ago | (#46659093)

Using wood to create BioFuels is extremely wasteful of both time and material.

Use hemp instead. You'll get two huge crops per year. And it's a crop made of easy-to-process plant material. No lignin involved. Just process the green matter.

Re:Wood for biofuels? Slow and wasteful. (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 7 months ago | (#46660731)

Hemp is pretty low in recoverable energy compared to many other... oh wait... nevermind...

Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46659447)

Why use sun & wind when we can find another excuse to cut more trees? :/

Re:... why not bamboo ? (1)

fygment (444210) | about 7 months ago | (#46660457)

MOD UP PARENT!

Exactly the right question: why frikkin' trees? It's not like there's an overabundance of poplar (or any other tree). If you have to use a challenging material, why not bamboo ?

More biopollution is not good news (0, Troll)

xiando (770382) | about 7 months ago | (#46659469)

Their "solution" is to genetically alter trees. It seems nobody here read the article close enough to catch that. A problem with this solution is that plants tend to spread their genes in unpredictable ways. Those "round-up"-ready genes the inventors of Agent Oragne (Monsanto) put into their seeds has already spread into the wild. If your farm is next to a farm using Monsanto sees then it's very likely that your natural seeds will be invested with these genes. The same is true here. Those "super" new trees will eventually end up spreading their fancy modified genes into natural trees. THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING.

Re:More biopollution is not good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46659571)

Did you read the part where it is a gene native to other types of plants(trees) that is transplanted to a faster growing tree?

Save the trees? (2, Interesting)

tp1024 (2409684) | about 7 months ago | (#46659537)

Erm, wasn't there something the greenies used to say? Like save the trees? Protect the forests? Leave room for nature?

Well, obviously I must have been hallucinating all the ways through the 90ies. And don't worry, I'll see a psychiatrist about this decade-long delusion at once. But let's pretend there had been an environmental movement in the second half of the last century, when people said that there is some inherent value in nature itself. Wouldn't you think that people in this movement would have been somewhat upset about the prospect of converting huge tracts of land that used be called "forests" into industrial fuel plantations? Well, I for one would imagine they'd be, but they are not.

Hence my suspicion that I was merely hallucinating. If I don't respond, I guess I stuck in comfy happy white room.

Re:Save the trees? (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 7 months ago | (#46660591)

You are muddling together millions of people with a bunch of different motivations and ideas.

Tough part (2)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 7 months ago | (#46659653)

The toughest part is to make sure they don't scream as they destruct; the licensing fees would be too expensive.

Re:Tough part (4, Funny)

Snard (61584) | about 7 months ago | (#46660107)

The toughest part is to make sure they don't scream as they destruct; the licensing fees would be too expensive.

Not to worry, there will probably be no one there to hear it, so it won't make any noise.

A-La-Niven (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46659763)

Stage Trees

Can they do this with fish bones too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46659829)

It would be great to do this to fish. Would eliminate all those problems with putting a lump of bony fish in my mouth :-)

With a plastic bag for a helmet (1)

RoccamOccam (953524) | about 7 months ago | (#46660087)

They hoped that by introducing paired building blocks throughout the lignin, they could later “unzip” the lignin’s structure during pretreatment.

You unzipped me, it's all coming BACK!

Termites (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about 7 months ago | (#46660193)

Instead of all this creation of new Frankenplants, why not just use termites. They seem to have no problem breaking down lignin at lower temperatures, and it doesn't required monkeying around with plant genes.

Re:Termites (1)

Marginal Coward (3557951) | about 7 months ago | (#46662479)

I've tried termites at home. They did more harm than good.

What happens to nearby forests? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46660273)

What happens to other trees when the pollen from these get into the forest?
If some of YOUR trees get this pollen, will you still own the seedlings?
Monsanto has sued farmers whose crops where polluted with unwanted pollen.
The farmer had to destroy his crops because Monsanto had better lawyers.

Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46661379)

"Wood is great for building and heating homes..."

Wood is TERRIBLE for heating homes. It is the absolute most inefficient way to heat.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 7 months ago | (#46662279)

"Wood is great for building and heating homes..."

Wood is TERRIBLE for heating homes. It is the absolute most inefficient way to heat.

Moreover, it's illegal in the USA. http://news.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org]

Not in the US (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 7 months ago | (#46662247)

Didn't the US EPA recently place a total ban on heating homes with wood?

Related: http://news.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org]

So what exactly do the US researchers hope to achieve here?

What if it escapes the lab? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46663207)

So I'm probably being paranoid, but what happens if this modification escapes the lab and is picked up by existing poplar forests? Would it mutate and affect other trees as well? Would it destroy natural poplar forests?

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