New Combine Designs Needed For Harvest Of Cellulose 16/01/2008
Researchers at Iowa State University are looking into combine harvester design solutions for the harvesting of cellulose. Cellulose is considered the next big thing in the fuel world that could replace corn as a fuel. What is unknown at this point is what crops will be used for cellulosic products meaning farmers are in the dark about what will be planted and what crop will need to be harvested. This leaves researchers in a tricky place of designing combine harvesters to harvest an as yet unknown crop.
So far Stuart Birrell and his fellow researchers have come up with a short term solution to modify a combine to harvest corn kernels as well as stalks and cobs from the plants. Birrell said, “We’re trying to do it without adding major complications to the harvesting process.” As always when it comes to farm production, efficiency is the key. According to Birrell, the kernel is still by far the most valuable part of the plant and any changes to the harvesting celllulosic fiber must be done so it doesn’t slow down the corn harvest. He explained that the importance of keeping the stalks and cobs is because they may not be the long-term solution to the cellulosic answer.