Shelie Miller: Biofuel Research

Shelie Miller, PhD, Assistant Professor, Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences

The idea is not just come up with a substitute for gasoline but come up with an actual better substitute for gasoline.
And what we’re really seeing is that switchgrass grows really well in the southeast region. And so this is a very good improvement potentially for South Carolinian farmers; and so what we see is this could be a very good rural economic development piece, where we can use this resource, create a new crop that people can grow, if they decide to, and potentially new energy resources, new industry resources for actually profits in biofuels.
We’re doing this life-cycle assessment method – basically looking at all of the environmental impacts in all stages of this product: from growing the crops to manufacturing them into ethanol to eventually burning in our cars.  Seeing what those environmental impacts are and comparing them to environmental impacts of petroleum and gasoline.  And the ultimate goal is to make sure that we’re not creating new environmental impacts in our potential solution to the energy problem.