1 Tahrcountry Musings: New Hope For Biofuels

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Hope For Biofuels

A team of US researchers has discovered that ethanol derived from switchgrass (Panicum virgatum ) delivers vast savings of carbon dioxide emissions compared with petrol. Production and consumption of switchgrass-derived ethanol cut CO2 emissions by about 94% when compared with an equivalent volume of petrol. GHG emissions were 88% less. The researchers also found that switchgrass-derived ethanol produced 540% more energy than was required to manufacture the fuel. Switchgrass Produces an average of 320 barrels of bioethanol per hectare. Although the process to produce ethanol from switchgrass was more complex than using food crops such as wheat or corn, biofuel from switchgrass could produce much higher energy yields per tonne because it utilised the whole plant rather than just the seeds. As switchgrass can be grown on marginal cropland it would not be in competition with food crops. The research paper appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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