Jatropha could be cultivated as a biofuel crop.

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With the attention on first generation corn ethanol fading, the next big thing on the sustainable fuel horizon is nonfood biofuel crops. Within that category, inedible weeds are taking a front-row seat due to their relatively low demands on water, pesticides, and herbicides, and their reduced need for tilling and other mechanized soil prep. Some weeds with biofuel potential can also thrive on contaminated soils, absorbing and cleaning pollutants in a process called phytoremediation.

One big caveat on weed biofuel is the risk of letting invasive species run wild off cultivated fields and overwhelming native species, but if that concern can be allayed through proper management, you may soon find these deceptively delicate looking weeds pulling enough power to beat out the tiger for a place in your tank.

Turn through the next seven pages for a closer look at some of the bigger players on the weed biofuel horizon…