Straw wealth

with the development of a new process, straw will be used to make substances that will result in a variety of fuels, chemicals, fertilisers and glues. This would be of immense benefit to the industries based on horticulture and agriculture as it would provide a sustainable way of not only utilising agricultural waste but of obtaining a valuable, slow-release fertiliser that will be environmentally sound. The possibilities are tremendous in light of the fact that the uk produces about 14 million tonnes of straw as by-product of cereal crops each year, only half of which has commercial value. The rest is destroyed.

Now, a team led by Tony Bridgwater, professor of Aston University's Bio-energy Research Group in the uk, has come up with a new process to utilise the straw. It is based on fast pyrolysis, a high-temperature process in which biomass is rapidly heated up to 500