Skip to comments.Study: Miscanthus More Than Twice as Productive as Switchgrass for Energy Crop
Posted on 07/12/2007 8:28:29 AM PDT by Red Badger
Miscanthus. Standing next to the grass is Dr. Emily Heaton (now with Ceres), who is 5' 4" (163 cm) tall. Source: UIUC
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have made the first direct comparisons of the biomass productivity of two C4 perennial grasses: switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus). The two have been widely trialed as low-input bioenergy crops in the US and EU, respectively.
Results from the trials throughout Illinois show that Miscanthus is more than twice as productive as switchgrass. Its efficiency of conversion of sunlight into biomass is amongst the highest ever recorded. The research team presented their results at Plant Biology and Botany 2007, a joint congress including the American Fern Society (AFS); the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB); the American Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASPT); and the Botanical Society of America (BSA).
The team, led by Frank Dohleman of the Plant Biology Department, theorized that Miscanthus produces more usable biomass than switchgrass because of these three key attributes:
Miscanthus can gain greater amounts of photosynthetic carbon per unit of leaf area; 2.
Miscanthus has a greater leaf area; and 3.
Miscanthus has a longer growing season.
The research team measured the amount of gas exchanged on the upper canopy of Miscanthus leaves from pre-dawn to post-dusk on 20 dates in the 2005 and 2006 growing seasons. The averages from two years data showed that Miscanthus gained 33% more carbon than switchgrass.
Integrated measurements also showed that the Miscanthus leaf area was 45% greater than switchgrass and that Miscanthus plants grew an average of eleven days longer than switchgrass. This extended growing season and accompanying lower temperatures proved to further boost the photosynthetic activity of Miscanthus. Specifically, pyruvate Pi dikinase was found to be expressed at higher rates when ambient temperatures are lower. This enzyme supports C4 photosynthesis in Miscanthus.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is working with the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in forming the new $500-million Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) funded by BP, with UC Berkeley taking the lead. (Earlier post.)
As part of the EBI, some 340 acres of farmland at the Urbana campus will be devoted to the study and production of feedstock for biofuel production. Researchers will explore the potential benefits of using corn crop residues, switchgrass, Miscanthus and other herbaceous perennials as fuel sources. The initiative will explore how adequate supplies of high quality plant biomass can be sustainably produced and utilized in facilities that convert the biomass to fuels.
Feedstock development is one of five research areas at the EBI. The others are biomass depolymerization; fossil fuel bioprocessing (converting heavy hydrocarbons to cleaner fuels) and carbon sequestration; socio-economic systems; and biofuels production. In addition to feedstock development and socio-economic research, Illinois will work with the other research institutions on biofuels production. UC Berkeley will lead this part of the project, with Illinois joining the search for the most efficient use of microbes to harvest the energy in plants for biofuels.
Resources: Does increased daily carbon assimilation coupled with a higher Leaf Area Index and longer growing season explain the difference in productivity between two potential bioenergy crops?
I just planted this in my yard (got tired of feeding the deer with everything else). Now I have my own “Green Gold!”
That chick is hot.
The grass in my yard is whatever my neighbors half a mile in all directions have seeded their lawns with. There must be twenty varities. They all grow very quickly for a few days and then stop. If there is a way to program grass growth so some is always in this rapid growth phase there could be a never-ending supply of biomass. That stuff is over and done in a week.
If we are going to use biofuels this is the only way that makes sense. Using corn is idiotic.
She can’t be hot. She’s standing in the shade.......
It’s not just growth but the right stuff to turn into ethanol........If it was just growth, kudzu would be perfect........
Not everybody is aware that all corn is engineered and Monsanto is already working on hybrid specials for the ethanol process.
In order to be feasible it would need to generate, at a bare minimum, about 10 times as many gallons of ethanol per acre than corn does.
We don’t have kudzu, but we have vetch. Bumper crop this year. Totally useless but looks nice from a distance of 200 yards.
You don’t have kudzu.....now........but you will eventually......It’s slowly covering the entire planet............
In addition, most people think that we have a realistic way to crack cellulose. Until that problem is solved, all we can do with this grass is burn it or feed it to cows.
If you look carefully, there’s some tall grass growing in the background.
It's not totally useless. It's a legume and fixes nitrogen, so therefore it's good for the soil. It can be made into hay (it ain't alfalfa, but it's got some protein). Also, it makes a seed that ground birds such as quail like to eat.
Kudzu is the goatherder’s friend. Fence it off and turn ‘em loose...they’ll eat it down to the dirt, and continue to chomp every successive shoot that comes up. Kudzu is great fodder, and over time the goats’ll kill it if you’ve got a high enough density of goats on the plot.
It makes a cool noise when its seed pods are popping. Although I have tried, not recently, I have not been able to actually see a seed pod open. The vetch is an import by DOT about 1994 from Pennsylvania for one of its highway projects. From there it has been spread everywhere that cars go, such as past my yard. It’s a climbing vine of sorts and drags weaker plants to the ground.
Good old-fashioned pyrolysis works, if you don't mind the end product being methanol.
Ethanol is a terrible fuel. And with current technology, plants high in sugar or starch would be best. I doubt that any of the grasses would be good for it.
Foxworthy: “If you’ve ever mowed your lawn and found a car, you might be a Redneck.”
Miss Canthus (standing next to the grass) is NOT GUILTY!
Definitely NOT GUILTY.
Which is all well and sounds great, but the ONE datum that is needed and doesn't seem to be here is how much fermentable carbohydrate per acre does it yield relative to switchgrass.
Not mine. Mine's dead.
Burning large amounts of hydrocarbons to yield hydrocarbon fuels seems to defeat the purpose. Until an enzymatic or catalytic process is found to break down cellulose, it’s probably better to just burn the fuel directly in cars or power plants.
Dr. Emily Heaton can ride on my lawnmower any old time.
Most likely they ar looking at this grass for ethanol as well as bid-diesel capabilities. This grass may be fairly significant as the biomas is so high.
Looking forward to more research in this area.
When you state it that way, sure it does. But the important thing to remember is that the end product is a motor fuel compatible with current engine technology and the existing fuel distribution system. The "large amounts of hydrocarbons" you start with (in the form of solid industrial waste or even giant bales of miscanthus) aren't that. It's worth some investment in the process not to have to re-invent the automobile and the gas station.
Besides, if you read the whole article on TPD, you'll find that with most feedstocks the process generates enough fuel to self-sustain the process and produce fuel besides. At the turkey plant they use the gas to fire the cooker, and the oil is sold.
Most importantly, we have to stop thinking of fuel energy as "free." Fuel is a storage medium for energy that originally came from some other source. That's all it ever has been. The fact that for about a century we've been pumping it out of the ground just confuses the issue.
I really need to fix that mower.......this weekend.......or next.......
Wow! I think I am in love!
If you don’t water, you don’t have to mow...
When someone looks at using Kudzu, I will pay attention.
Why is that?
Please Freep Mail me if you'd like on/off
We have to water. There are 2 dogs in there somewhere.........
If you must have pets, get goats...
Here in Minnesota we have plenty of bugs. The grasshoppers and bees are usually more numerous later in the summer. But right now we got loads of mosquitoes.
“farm animals” are not allowed in residential areas, per a COUNTY ORDINANCE. There is a current controversy going on here over a guy who has a pet chicken........
You must not know how ungodly hot and humid central Illinois summers can be. :)
Anything which lessons US dependence upon oil from third world hellholes, is worth a look.
This is Florida. We have 95-95-95 weather. 95°F-95%humidity-95% chance of rain.....
From the looks of that picture, I’ll bet Dr. Harton has the same effect on men.
While a gallon of ethanol generates maybe 40% less heat than a gallon of gasoline, that doesn't directly correlate into 40% less mileage. Ethanol can burn more efficiently than gasoline, generating more power, making up much of the difference.
In my Silverdao 1/2 ton pickup, the mileage drop from 87 octane gasoline to 105 octane E-85 is about 15%.
They've obviously all moved here, to my house.........
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