Prairie grasses

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Bioenergy > Feedstocks > Cellulosic feedstocks > Prairie grasses

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Prairie grasses are varieties of native grass that grow in the Great Plains of central North America. Due to their hardiness and high biomass production potential -- some grow as tall as 10 feet (3 meters) in height -- prairie grasses are being considered as potential feedstocks for cellulosic ethanol, biomass-to-liquids and other bioenergy technologies.

Prairie grasses could have a number of potential benefits as bioenergy feedstocks. As they are native species, growing them may require less water and fertilizer usage, and they may contribute to the maintenance of habitat and biodiversity.

Different technologies may have problems dealing with polyculture rather than monoculture feedstocks. For example, for cellulosic ethanol production, mixtures of prairie grass species may require complex mixtures of enzymes to break down the cellulose in the different plants during the ethanol production process.

Types of prairie grasses


  • Argonne, UChicago researchers pursue grasses as Earth-friendly biofuel, 21 July 2008 by WebWire: "While crops with high starch or sugar contents -- most notably corn grain and sugarcane -- are the focus of current bioenergy applications, botanists have also seen potential in perennial grasses."
    • "As part of an effort to develop a new collection of alternative fuels," scientists from the "U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago have planted seven different combinations of native Midwestern prairie grasses [on a] 13-acre site at Fermilab’s campus" in Illinois.
    • "DOE began to consider perennial forage crops as possible sources of alternative fuels during the oil crisis of the late 1970s and early 1980s."
    • The researchers "are seeking to determine which grasses produce high yields of harvestable biomass while also pumping the most carbon underground through root growth. When roots die and decompose, some carbon is sequestered in soil organic matter, and nutrients such as nitrogen are recycled to sustain future plant growth."
    • The research is part of the DOE "Consortium for Research on Enhancing Carbon Sequestration in Terrestrial Ecosystems" (CSiTE)."[3]

Grasses edit
Elephant grass | Miscanthus | Switchgrass

Grasslands | Native grasses (Prairie grasses)
See also: Conservation Reserve Program | Cellulosic ethanol

Temperate feedstocks for bioenergy edit
Corn (Bioethanol) | Jojoba (biodiesel) | Prairie grasses (Bioethanol) | Rapeseed (Biodiesel) | Soy beans (Biodiesel) | Sugar beet (Bioethanol) | Sweet potato (Bioethanol) | Sweet sorghum (Bioethanol) | Switchgrass (Bioethanol) | Wheat (Bioethanol)
Bioenergy feedstocks edit

Biodiesel feedstocks:
Currently in use: Animal fat | Castor beans | Coconut oil | Jatropha | Jojoba | Karanj | Palm oil | Rapeseed | Soybeans | Sunflower seed | Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO)
Currently in research and development: Algae | Halophytes (Salt-tolerant plants)

Ethanol feedstocks:
First-generation: Cassava | Corn | Milo | Nypa palm | Sorghum | Sugar beets | Sugar cane | Sugar palm |Sweet potato | Waste citrus peels | Wheat | Whey
Second-generation: For cellulosic technology - Grasses: Miscanthus, Prairie grasses, Switchgrass | Trees: Hybrid poplar, Mesquite, Willow

Charcoal feedstocks: Bamboo | Wood
Waste-to-energy (MSW)


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