Corn stover consists of the leaves, stalks, and cobs of maize (corn) plants left in a field after harvest; it makes up about half of the yield of a corn crop. In order to avoid depleting the world’s food supply and reduce waste, cellulosic crop and wood residues and food wastes like corncobs, straw, sugarcane fiber after sugar extraction, banana fiber, and pine needles are being studied as potential sources of ethanol.
It’s more challenging to release the sugars in these feedstocks for conversion to ethanol, but the environmental benefits are critical. Many renewable fuel research teams are working with using these materials, rather than discarding them. Less fossil fuel energy is required to grow, collect, and convert them to ethanol, and they are not used for human food.