Common Weed Could Become New, Green Bio Jet Fuel

A new study by OSU researchers found that the common farm weed, pennycress or commonly known as stinkweed, could make a greener jet fuel. It would have less production-related impacts on the environment than other biofuels.

The study found that growing stinkweed requires less pesticide and less fertilizer than other plants appropriate for making renewable jet fuel. Both are would be a win for the farmland and surrounding environment it was grown in.

Stinkweed also requires fewer physical operations like tiling of the soil than other biofuel crops. This would reduce the environmental cost of tiling like carbon dioxide emissions and other emissions.

The study also found that additional environmental impacts could be lessened by techniques that keep fertilizer on the field instead of it becoming run off to local watersheds.

Study authors stated that these changes will not mean just incremental changes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from air travel but a fundamental change in how the industry has been producing fuel and where it comes from.

The Journal “Applied Energy” published the article online.


OSU Study Finds Urban Green Spaces and Help Support and Protect Bees

While there are lots of reasons to convert vacant urban lots into green space such as improving neighborhoods and reducing blight, new research has found that efforts like these reclamations also end up benefiting bees.

And Ohio State study found that their experimental plots surrounded by 15 or more acres of connected green space or flowering prairies containing native plants created conditions and spaces in which native bees would thrive and be protected by predatory wasps.

Of course bees are important for pollination but also insect pest control. Both these services are important for rural farms and urban agricultural projects which are growing in popularity. In Cleveland, Ohio where the research was conducted there are over 200 community farms and gardens.

Creating optimal conditions for bees to live in will help protect them. They are currently challenged by habitat loss, climate change, pesticides, and invasive specifies.

The researchers hoped to assess urban greening strategies that would help support multiple kinds of ecosystem services provided by plants and insects. While typical turf grass does support some insect life different kinds of green spaces, if created, would benefit the environment and our friends the bees even more so.


Much Ado About Batteries

OSU researchers are making strides in the important area of energy storage—as the need to switch over to renewable energy increases, the world needs more efficient ways to store that energy. The technology may also mean much longer-lasting batteries for mobile devices.

The journal Batteries and Supercaps the researchers have published their new findings focused on a battery’s cathode build. The cathode stores energy via a chemical reaction in a metal-air or metal-oxygen environment. The researchers believe that cheaper and better storage will make power sources like wind and solar much more viable and affordable options at both the power grid and home level.

Renewable energy sources don’t emit carbon dioxide, however many sources (again wind and solar are good examples) are always producing energy to be capture, thus when it is being made in abundance (a sunny or windy day) there needs to be an efficient and long lasting way to store that energy.

OSU, like companies, scientists and governments from all over the world are working on such storage solutions. Some solutions include large lithium-ion batteries. These would be bigger versions of those batteries used in many electric and hybrid vehicles. Other solutions involved batteries literally the size of a big box store using a metal called vanadium. The Ohio State researchers solution is just one of many humanity will need to push forward into the future.

OSU Takes Top Rank in GameDay Recycling Challenge

As anyone who has attended an OSU game can imagine, that stadium could generate a lot of potential waste, even for a single, well attended event. However, OSU’s stadium has been ranked as “zero waste” since 2013. This means the stadium is diverting 90% of its waste away from landfills. Methods of diversion include recycling, reusing and composting.

For five years running OSU has bested its competitors in the Big Ten Conference in the annual GameDay Recycling Challenge. The GameDay Recycling challenge is a national competition among colleges and universities, to promote waste reduction and sustainability at home football games.

The stadiums home-game season saw 95.4 percent of waste diverted away from landfills—no small feat! The most successful game was the November 26 against the University of Michigan, when the stadium diverted 96.23% of its waste. This total being higher, by 20%, than any achieved by any competitor in the conference.

Go Bucks! Go Green!