Experts have demonstrated an efficient method for boosting yeast to make biofuels from corn stover, the parts of a corn plant that are typically discarded.
A report at earth.com says only a small portion of a corn plant is actually used, and the rest is discarded as waste. If the leftover leaves, stalks and cobs could be fermented into ethanol like corn kernels, the corn stover could be a large-scale, renewable source of fuel.
Study co-author Gerald Fink is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.
“Stover is produced in huge amounts, on the scale of petroleum,” Professor Fink told earth.com. “But there are enormous technical challenges to using them cheaply to create biofuels and other important chemicals.”
The researchers were able to efficiently make ethanol and even plastic precursors from corn stover, miscanthus and other types of plant matter.