Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Grass Power

A possible promising crop for biofuel may be a form of Elephant Grass (Miscanthus x giganteus). This tall grass hybrid could yield up to 60 tonnes of biomass per acre. It is currently being tested in Europe. It thrives in northern climates and requires very little fertilizer. It has a low water content so it can be easily harvested at the end of the growing season and simply burned for power. Stephen Long of University of Illinois calculates that if 8% of all the land in Illinois was dedicated to this crop, it could generate half of the electrical needs of the state. It also has little effect on the carbon balance because it simply releases the CO2 when burned that was sequestered when it was growing. The hybrid does not produce seeds so it can't spread. Further bioengineering could make it even more efficient. Who says I can't say something positive?


Anonymous said...

does that means that fuel (or lack of, actually) is no more an issue, now ? Instead of polluted oil field we could have giant herbs field to put into the engins. In france, some people are running their car with spoiled vegetal oil that served to fry fries ! It's a bit smelly but it works.

Carson Chow said...

Biofuels are still much more expensive than petroleum although there is a lot of wasted cooking oil that could be recycled. When oil reaches $100 a barrel we may see some tobacco fields coverted to elephant grass.