Not many teenagers have an ethanol producing facility in their basement, but for Eric Koehlmoos, a student from the South O’Brien FFA Chapter in Paullina, Iowa, it was all part of his supervised agricultural experience (SAE).
Eric’s idea for his high school SAE sprung out of a science fair project for biology class. He looked at the ethanol industry and was curious if ethanol could be made from switchgrass and prairie cordgrass. He began his research, utilizing knowledge from his animal science class.
“A cellulosic ethanol plant and a cow’s rumen are two very, very similar things,” Eric said.
Creating ethanol from prairie grasses, Eric said, is important because it can “better the tool box” for potential energy sources that will eventually replace oil.
“It can help use less of the high-quality ground that we can grow corn on and other types of crops, and then on poor quality ground we can grow switchgrass an