A two-year study at Michigan State University finds that growing native prairie grasses for biofuel harvesting is more beneficial to wildlife populations than monoculture stands of corn. The research team, headed by biologist Bruce Robertson, attempted to identify ecologically sound biofuel alternatives that are as cost-effective as corn, which is currently the primary feedstock for deriving ethanol in the US. The study showed that almost twice as many insects and birds were present amongst mixed prairie grasses than corn. Fields of only switchgrass yielded less wildlife presence than those of mixed prairie grasses, but still greater levels than tracts of pure corn. The study prompts questions about how often feedstock would need to be harvested and how disruptive harvest would be to wildlife on site, but it also gives early support the hybridization of strategies for addressing biodiversity and renewable energy generation.
Finnish company ZenRobotics has developed a device which can autonomously detect and remove recyclable materials from trash, diverting waste from landfills. The currently-unnamed technology consists of a series of sensors which analyze the physical and material properties of garbage on a conveyor belt. A computerized robotic arm removes detected recyclables from the mix. Currently, the device is capable of filtering out metals, concrete, wood, and certain types of plastics. It is relatively compact in size to make installation in existing waste management plants a practical possibility.
During a test using construction waste (which is estimated to make up almost half of all landfilled refuse), the device was able to identify and reclaim approximately 50% of total recyclable material.