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No, it is not a trendy sports drink.

"Energy cane" may sound like a trendy sports drink, but it actually is among a generation of energy crops that could yield up to five times more ethanol per acre than corn, according to Chemical & Engineering News. Senior Editor Melody M. Bomgardner explains that energy cane is a high-fiber variety of sugarcane now being grown in California's Imperial Valley.

Scientists bred it specifically as an "energy crop," a genre that includes the giant reed Arundo donax, napier grass, switchgrass, and hybrid poplar. Far beyond providing raw material for biobased fuels, such crops have potential for supplying inexpensive, abundant, sustainable raw materials ("feedstocks" in chemical parlance) like ethylene and propylene. They become ingredients in hundreds of everyday products, ranging from smartphones and televisions to clothing, carpeting, and batteries.

The biobased fuels and chemicals industry envisions substituting energy crops for oil and natural gas, the traditional sources of such feed-stocks. Those efforts are taking on a sense of urgency because abundant, less-expensive shale gas may make it difficult for biobased feed-stocks to compete.

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Title Annotation:Energy Cane
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2014
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