Feeding cows parts of corn plants that farmers currently discard could eventually lead to American energy independence, Wired reports. An ammonia treatment applied to corn “stover” could make it palatable to cattle, freeing up more land for the production of ethanol, a Michigan State researcher says. That could, in turn, protect untouched land from cultivation for biofuels.
“We could replace every drop of gasoline used in the United Sates while still maintaining the same amount of animal feed and exports,” Bryan Bals said at the Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals. “We believe this is a realistic scenario. This is no new technology and no unproven technology.” Skeptics note that ethanol, and biofuels in general, have a very slim profit margin, and predict that the business model cannot survive.