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Native grass could produce ethanol

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A plant native to Oklahoma is getting more attention as a possible alternative fuel source after being mentioned by President Bush during his State of the Union address this week.

Switchgrass is a plant that grows up to seven feet tall and is one of four major species in the Tall Grass Prairie. It was mentioned by the president as a possible source in producing ethanol.

Energy officials say an acre of switchgrass can produce about 1,150 gallons of ethanol and that there are more than 1-million acres of Oklahoma land available to grow it.

One drawback to switchgrass is it contains large amounts of a glue-like substance and research is needed to find ways to convert it efficiently into ethanol.

A group of researchers at Oklahoma State University is already working to find an efficient process for making the conversion.
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