April 10, 2009
Researchers at North Carolina State University have found that a tiny aquatic plant can be used to clean up animal waste at industrial hog farms and potentially be part of the answer for the global energy crisis. Their research shows that growing duckweed on hog wastewater can produce five to six times more starch per acre than corn, according to researcher Dr. Jay Cheng. This means that ethanol production using duckweed could be "faster and cheaper than from corn," says fellow researcher Dr. Anne-Marie Stomp.
"We can kill two birds – biofuel production and wastewater treatment – with one stone – duckweed," Cheng says. Starch from duckweed can be readily converted into ethanol using the same facilities currently used for corn, Cheng adds.
Large-scale hog farms manage their animal waste by storing it in large "lagoons" for biological treatment. Duckweed utilizes the nutrients in the wastewater for growth, thus capturing these nutrients and preventing their release into the environment. In other words, Cheng says, "Duckweed could be an environmentally friendly, economically viable feedstock for ethanol."
Source : NCSU Press Release