The search for abundant tropical biomass sources continues. In an interesting development, a new biofuel company, SamoaFiber Holdings, is going to build a fast-pyrolysis plant in Loreto, Peru's most northern region, using as a feedstock a tall, very fast-growing C4 type of tropical grass (earlier post) that thrives on river banks and is locally known as "caña brava" (Gynerium sagittatum).
Gynerium sagittatum, also known as Samoa fiber or arrow grass, grows in a very large region of Latin America and in an exceptionally wide range of climates, from the humid tropics to semi-deserts. It can be found along river banks from the Antilles to Northern Chile and Argentina, to the South-Brazilian Atlantic coast up to Guyana and to the Peruvian Pacific coast. The crop thrives on most tropical river banks, but most notably in the high Amazon basin. On sandy dunes, it fixes the sand with its rhizomatic root system and then colonises river banks, where it withstands seasonal flooding (more information-*french). Local communities harvest the tall and dense grass for use in construction (thatching). The stems range between three and ten meters in height.
On january 5 and 7, SamoaFiber's CEO William L. New and other company executives met with Loreto's regional president, Mr. Ivan Vasquez, who announced during a press conference in Iquitos, that he's been "coordinating with the national Executive (power) the start of an ambitious project aimed at producing bio-oil from the industrialization of cana brava (gynerium sagittatum), which grows wildly throughout the Amazonian flood lands."
The regional president then added that the president of Peru, Dr. Alan Garcia Perez, "is very interested in the construction of a first bio-oil production plant in Loreto, taking into account that the cana brava plant can turn 80 percent of its biomass into bio-oil, a product that will be exported bringing revenue to the country." Vasquez also informed that SamoaFiber Holdings already has a two million ton per year request of bio-oil that will be exported to European and Asian markets.
Bio-oil, or pyrolysis oil, is a heavy kind of oil obtained from the (fast)pyrolysis of biomass (earlier post). This oil can be used either directly for heat and power generation or as a feedstock for the production of both synthetic biofuels (similar to diesel or heavy fuel oils) and hydrogen, while containing a large number of chemical building blocks from which a range of green products can be made (from bioplastics to lubricants and specialty chemicals) (earlier post):
biomass :: bioenergy :: biofuels :: energy :: sustainability :: bio-oil :: pyrolysis oil :: fast-pyrolysis :: biomass-to-liquids :: synthetic biofuels :: Fischer-Tropsch :: gynerium sagittatum :: arrow grass :: samoa fiber :: Peru ::
Given the export orders, Vasquez commented: "We're going to work this as a joint effort between those of us who think these resources should be managed under sustainable development practices to give the world much cleaner and dependable energy products." He then concluded with a brief explanation of bio-oil use in electric power generation and other purposes.
SamoaFiber Holdings, Inc. is commercializing the production of bio-oil with initial production to take place in Peru. SFH is developing plantations in Eastern Peru to grow the Gynerium sagittatum plant and then further process the biomass into bio-oil via the proven fast pyrolysis (FP) processing method. FP plants are being established adjacent to the plantations and bio-oil shall be shipped to customers that require renewable fuels as mandated in Europe and the U.S. SFH is led by a management team that has extensive experience in acquiring and processing fiber into useful forms.