A University of Nevada, Reno professor is leading the way on converting a native roadside weed into fuel that could help the military. Glen Miller has been working to convert gumweed into a biofuel, which could be used as jet fuel for the military.
"We are looking at breaking it down because it uses less water and it's already acclimated to Nevada conditions," Miller said. "It would be beneficial generating this arid-land crop because it doesn't compete with food or animal feed.
"The primary resource for diesel fuel is soy beans and ethanol for corn which are always in direct competition with food."
The final biofuel product could produce up to 122 gallons per acre on a biennial basis, attracting the U.S. Navy's interested in using it as jet fuel, Miller said.
"...Gumweed is native in Nevada and grows on the side of freeways and, more importantly, is an arid land crop that requires less water than other substitutes like alfalfa," Miller said in the statement. "Alfalfa takes five feet of water to grow while gumweed uses no more than a foot of water."
Gumweed was planted at the UNR's Valley Road Field Laboratory and the Main Station Field Laboratory. After it grew and was harvested, it was broken down to a liquid that smells like tar, UNR officials said. The project received $500,000 in grant funding from the United States Department of Agriculture. It has the potential to supply up to 20 percent of fuel demand for the military, UNR officials said.
"It is estimated that if even 10 percent of sagebrush-covered lands in Nevada are used to grow gumweed for aviation biofuels, 400 to 600 million gallons per year of jet biofuels could be produced", Lin, a College of Engineering collaborator, said. "That's definitely incredible. There's lots of potential."
Best Regards, Kelly