From fossil fuels to poplars

ECOLOGY & CONSERVATION

POPLAR

I can't believe how did we manage to survive so long depending on fossil fuels. Crude oil, petrol, has been our main source of energy since the industrial revolution and about 90% of our vehicles nowadays use it as the main source of energy, however, this won't last long, or at least not long enough.

Other sources are needed and governments are desperately looking for other ones, some as the wind energy are already playing a big role in this migration towards renewable energies. Some countries are already meeting a big percentage of their daily needs using a combination of the wind and solar energies, but those ones alone won't be able to meet our current and future needs, others as bio-fuel are being investigated.

Within these new options, some as algae, have been identified as a potential source for the replacement of petrol. Within this line, a new source of energy, poplars, has also been identified recently researchers of Michigan State University as another possible option towards the creation of future biofuels. Image: Morguefile.


POPULUS TREMULA

Family: Salicaceae

Genus: Populus

Common name: Poplar


 

The research focuses on enhancing poplar trees so they can break down more easily, improving their biodegradability, something that can increase their chance to become a viable source for the production of new biofuels [1].

This study is not the only one in the subject. Others have focused on other different sources as crop, however, other constraints for the development of this options as land availability made researchers left that idea aside for the time being. 

But who knows, maybe the future of biofuels is not in our current continental crops and is found a little bit further into our seas, where algae grow without limits. Some studies on this line have showed how algae biofuels produced via hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) can already be considered as a possible and viable option to replace current fuels. 

 

REFERENCES

[1] Michigan University Article "Unzipping' popplars biofuel potential".