Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Remember Gasohol? Bioeconomy May Transform Iowa’s Future

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 1:43 PM MDT

Once upon a time, Iowa farmers started making and at least attempting to sell a product they called gasohol.

Born in the late 1970s --- when oil prices were soaring and corn production was climbing as well --- the idea was to develop a new product for Midwestern crops and reduce the nation’s dependence on oil imports.

It really started with an earlier effort to coax high-fructose syrup out of corn, according to Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, a farmer and former National Corn Growers Association president.

“That started us thinking more about the components of the crop,” Northey explains. “And, one thing led to another.”

Today, gasohol has graduated to ethanol, as well as E-85, biodiesel, and various lubricants and fabrics made from starch and other plant-based items.

Over the horizon are myriad opportunities for items, such as cellulosic ethanol, as well as plant-based pharmaceuticals and other unexplored ideas.

Call it the biofuture.

“This is going to happen,” says Wendy Wintersteen, dean of the College of Agriculture at Iowa State University.

The bigger question, Winstersteen says, is how this biofuture will unfold and whether Iowa and other Midwestern states will make the most of what she views as a unique opportunity to transform the culture, the economy and even the landscape.

Northey agrees. The key is farmers and agribusiness are looking at various components of crops and are trying to see how they can better use those components, he adds.

The Prairie Star, Nov. 1, 2007

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