Perennial Grass (Miscanthus)

From the Picture It… Chemistry blog.

Picture it...

Our society relies on oil. We use it to power our cars, our homes and our factories. Yet oil is formed over millions of years and one day it will run out. But what if we could grow plants to use as fuel? Could they take the place of oil? Welcome to the exciting, and controversial, world of biofuels.

1. This picture shows some leaves of the perennial zebra grass Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ in a measuring cylinder on the draining board of a laboratory sink, a small model of a section of lignin polymer, as well as a wash bottle of ethanol and a small bottle of petroleum ether, distilled to have a boiling point between 40 and 60 degrees Celsius. The zebra grass is standing in for one of its cousins, Miscanthus x giganteus, which is starting to be used as a source of renewable energy crop. This…

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