Natural Resources

Green Fuel Feeds Virginia's Rural Economy

Jan 13, 2016
Virginia Tech

Every year, Virginia spends a billion dollars on energy from somewhere else – fuel oil, propane or kerosene to heat homes.  Now, farmers in Virginia are growing an alternative fuel – a clean, sustainable grass that promises to keep the cash here in the Commonwealth.  Sandy Hausman has that story.

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With so many cars on the road this holiday season, it’s easy to see why automobiles account for almost half of the country’s fuel consumption.  But what if cars could recover some of that energy for other uses? An engineering professor at Virginia Tech is working on a way to give cars exactly that kind of ‘energy bump.’

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Lei Zuo and his team are working on a new kind of shock absorber that would not only enhance a car’s ride, but also create energy just from driving on the road.

Every year, 250 million inner tubes from tires are tossed into landfills.  It’s an environmental problem, but it’s also a business opportunity. 

America’s highways are filled with trucks that ride on tires, and when those wheels of rubber must be replaced, their inner tubes often end up in the trash.  That seemed a shame to Angela Greene.

“I stumbled upon a backpack that I really liked.  It was made of inner tubes, and we just became very interested in inner tubes, because they’re very pretty.”  

Earlier this year President Obama traveled to Alaska to highlight what he called the frontline of climate change. But a report published in Nature, says residents of Virginia's Tangier Island, just 90 miles southeast of Washington, D.C., on the Chesapeake Bay, may be forced to leave during the next 25 years.

Students at Virginia Tech are getting a real taste of what it’s like to deal with invasive species.  Once they’re established, it’s almost impossible to eradicate them, but as we hear in this report, some are saying, ‘If you can’t beat ‘em.  Eat ‘em.

“OK most creative: We have a tie for second …”

Assistant professor of invasive plant pathology, Jacob Barney is announcing the winners at this invasive species potluck.

“And we have the crawfish cornbread.  But the clear favorite was the ice cream.”

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