Miscanthus bests switchgrass as biofuel source
July 11, 2007
A team of scientists led by Frank Dohleman of the Plant Biology Department at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that Miscanthus is about twice as productive as switchgrass. Dohleman says this is due to Miscanthus' longer growing season, greater leaf area, and higher carbon storage per unit of leaf area.
Both plants have been highly touted as a potential source for cellulosic ethanol production, though the technology is still not ready for commercialization.
Ethanol yield for various crops
Ney energy yield for various crops
Biofuels have seen a surge in popularity in recent years due to increasing concern over climate change and energy security. In theory, biofuels have low emissions than fossil fuels since carbon is sequestered as the plants grow.
High oil prices fuel bioenergy push
High oil prices and growing concerns over climate change are driving investment and innovation in the biofuels sector as countries and industry increasingly look towards renewable bioenergy to replace fossil fuels. Bill Gates, the world's richest man, has recently invested $84 million in an American ethanol company, while global energy gluttons ranging from the United States to China are setting long-term targets for the switch to such fuels potentially offering a secure domestic source of renewable energy and fewer environmental headaches.
U.S. ethanol may drive Amazon deforestation
(5/17/2007) Ethanol production in the United States may be contributing to deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest said a leading expert on the Amazon. Dr. Daniel Nepstad of the Woods Hole Research Center said the growing demand for corn ethanol means that more corn and less soy is being planted in the United States. Brazil, the world's largest producer of soybeans, is more than making up for shortfall, by clearing new land for soy cultivation. While only a fraction of this cultivation currently occurs in the Amazon rainforest, production in neighboring areas like the cerrado grassland helps drive deforestation by displacing small farmers and cattle producers, who then clear rainforest land for subsistence agriculture and pasture.
Ethanol may be greener but have higher health cost
(4/18/2007) Widespread burning of ethanol as fuel may increase the number of respiratory-related deaths and hospitalizations relative to gasoline, according to a new study by Stanford University atmospheric scientist Mark Z. Jacobson. The report comes as mounting environmental concerns cloud the benefits of using ethanol as a green alternative to fossil fuels.
Ethanol always not as green as some believe
(2/16/2007) Ethanol is generally not as green as some people believe says Bruce Dale, Michigan State University professor of chemical engineering and materials science. Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Francisco, Dale says that while corn ethanol produces less greenhouse gases than gasoline, it can cause other detrimental environmental effects if not carefully managed.
Weedy grass could free U.S. of foreign oil dependence says biologist
(2/16/2007) A weedy grass may hold the key to domestic energy security and mitigating emissions of greenhouse gasese, said a Stanford University plant biologist speaking Friday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco.