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Go Green by Growing Green: How to Extract Energy from Grass

Postby 138565g » Sun Sep 30, 2018 6:20 am

Hellov.I am in the seventh grade and I am doing this project for my science fair. But I have a small question about it. So, the experiment is about extracting energy from the 3 different types of grass. But in the procedure, they don't tell you how to extract the energy. Please help. I need an answer soon. Thanks. :D https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Energy_p034/energy-power/how-to-extract-energy-from-grass

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Re: Go Green by Growing Green: How to Extract Energy from Grass

Postby 17eugenekim » Sun Sep 30, 2018 12:40 pm

Hi there, thanks for coming to the Ask an Expert forums!

The way I understood this project, it doesn't actually include the part where you extract the energy from the grass. The "Go Green by Growing Green" experiment actually measures how good the different types of grass are at making biomass energy.

Biomass energy is basically the energy that a plant has converted from a different type of energy (for example, the Sun) into biomass, which is just another word for the plant's growth. In the experiment, bigger grass means more biomass energy!

Now, to extract the energy from the plant biomass into something that we can use - like the energy your parents put into your car - scientists have found more advanced ways. It involves a lot of complicated chemistry, and something called enzymes that can break down the chemicals in the plants to chemicals that we can use.

We have an abbreviated project idea page for this, but it might be too complicated for something you could do as a science fair project. The link is here: https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/BioChem_p038/biotechnology-techniques/turn-plants-into-biofuel-with-enzymes#summary

The "Go Green by Growing Green" project is still a very good project for a science fair. You don't have to actually make gasoline from grass to prove that we can do it. As long as you can understand what biomass energy is and how different plants make it, you've got a great project!

As always, feel free to ask more questions! I'd be happy to help you further!

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Re: Go Green by Growing Green: How to Extract Energy from Grass

Postby 138565g » Sun Sep 30, 2018 1:52 pm

Thanks so much, 17eugenekim! That is what I couldn't understand. So if I'm correct, the grass with the greatest mass is the grass with the most biomass energy?

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Re: Go Green by Growing Green: How to Extract Energy from Grass

Postby 17eugenekim » Sun Sep 30, 2018 6:39 pm

Yes, that's essentially the concept! But make sure you're measuring difference in growth. If you start with a big plant, and you end up with a big plant, then you can't really be sure it made a lot of biomass. So you have to measure the plants' mass beforehand, measure them after they grow, and calculate the difference. The bigger difference means more biomass growth!

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Re: Go Green by Growing Green: How to Extract Energy from Grass

Postby 138565g » Mon Oct 01, 2018 5:42 am

Ok. Great. Thanks so much! Just a quick thought- since we are just measuring the mass, can I do any plant, or does it have to be grass? :)

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Re: Go Green by Growing Green: How to Extract Energy from Grass

Postby 17eugenekim » Mon Oct 01, 2018 12:57 pm

As long as it's a plant that grows in a way that you can measure it before and after, there should be no problem with picking whatever plants you want to test! That's part of the beauty of science - you make your own questions!

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Re: Go Green by Growing Green: How to Extract Energy from Grass

Postby 138565g » Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:28 pm

Thanks so much. You really helped me and I really appreciate it. Thanks again. :D


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