Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Making good use of space...

Along the freeway in the Sacramento, CA area, there are beautiful flowering bushes. At least that is my memory from the yearly trips to the northern coast. Coming home after vacation always made me realize how dry and plain the roadsides in Utah were. The plain roadsides (at least a mile or so in Kaysville) will soon take on a more interesting, and useful appearance.

From today's Salt Lake Tribune:

Seeds planted today along a strip of Interstate 15 will some day fuel state trucks and snowplows. And that will reduce the need for mowing, allow the use of less-harmful pesticides and look pretty when the summertime yellow, blue and red and flowers bloom. Utah State University and the Utah Department of Transportation are teaming up on an experiment to plant a bit more than a mile of grassy safety strips around the state with plants whose seeds can be crushed and processed into 100 percent biodiesel. UDOT will use the homegrown stuff to replace the biodiesel it already uses in state vehicles.

The idea came from Dallas Hanks, a 44-year-old biologist who is working on his doctoral degree at USU. With an initial $50,000 from UDOT, Hanks aims to prove the 2,500 miles of state-owned highway right-of-way could yield an annual average of 500,000 gallons of 100 percent biodiesel, or B100. Planting the safflower, camelina, canola and perennial flax will save about $1.6 million per year in mowing costs, UDOT officials said. They won't know, however, the total savings to the agency from the project until the first-year experiment is finished...


I hope the project is wildly successful, and is spread to more areas.

Edited to add a link to today's 5/9/07 Tribune, which has another article about the bio diesel project. USU & UDOT

4 comments:

Tyler Farrer said...

Personally, I'm saddened as this will be an end of an era. Gone are the reminders that we live in a barren wasteland, reclaimed. Gone are the last vestiges of wild and unforgiving desert.

And how will we expand our roads when needed? To quote Dr. Brown, "Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads!"

Allie said...

I don't think the plants that are going to be used are suddenly going to turn the roadsides into lush gardens.

Besides, the dead grasses currently planted along the roads doesn't look much like a "wild and unforgiving desert" to me. They just look like dead grass.

Allie said...

Oh, and "if" the roads need to be expanded, I'd imagine you can pave over flowers just as easily as grass.

That One Guy said...

Radio this morning is reporting that this project has garnered a lot of nationwide attention and is being looked at for use all across the nation... although I don't think it will be a drop in the bucket of what is actually needed for realistic biofuel production, it is a step in the right direction.