Botany Grass As Biofuel?

Discussion in 'Botany' started by mscbkc070904, Apr 1, 2005.

  1. mscbkc070904

    mscbkc070904 Premium Member

    Grow grass, not for fun but for fuel. Burning grass for energy has been a well-accepted technology in Europe for decades. But not in the United States.

    Yet burning grass pellets as a biofuel is economical, energy-efficient, environmentally friendly and sustainable, says a Cornell University forage crop expert.

    This alternative fuel easily could be produced and pelleted by farmers and burned in modified stoves built to burn wood pellets or corn, says Jerry Cherney, the E.V. Baker Professor of Agriculture. Burning grass pellets hasn't caught on in the United States, however, Cherney says, primarily because Washington has made no effort to support the technology with subsidies or research dollars.

    "Burning grass pellets makes sense; after all, it takes 70 days to grow a crop of grass for pellets, but it takes 70 million years to make fossil fuels," says Cherney, who notes that a grass-for-fuel crop could help supplement farmers' incomes. Cherney presented the case for grass biofuel at a U.S. Department of Agriculture-sponsored conference, Greenhouse Gases and Carbon Sequestration in Agriculture and Forestry, held March 21-24 in Baltimore.

    "Grass pellets have great potential as a low-tech, small-scale, renewable energy system that can be locally produced, locally processed and locally consumed, while having a positive impact on rural communities," Cherney told the conference.

    The downside? "Unfortunately grass has no political lobby, which makes the start up of any new alternative energy industry problematic," says Cherney. He notes that a pellet-fuel industry was successfully established in Europe by providing subsidies to the industry. And even though the ratio of the amount of energy needed to produce grass pellets to the amount of energy they produce is much more favorable than for other biomass crops, the lack of government support prevents the industry from going forward, he says.

    Cherney has made a comparison of wood pellets with various mixes of grasses and the BTUs (British Thermal Units) produced per pound. He has found that grass pellets can be burned without emissions problems, and they have 96 percent of the BTUs of wood pellets. He also notes that grass produces more ash than wood -- meaning more frequent cleaning -- of stoves. Currently, he is testing the burning of pellets made from grasses, such as timothy and orchard grass, as well as weeds, such as goldenrod, in pellet stoves at Cornell's Mt. Pleasant Research Farm. This demonstration project is funded by Cornell's Agricultural Experiment Station.

    Cherney points out that grass biofuel pellets are much better for the environment because they emit up to 90 percent less greenhouse gases than oil, coal and natural gas do. Furthermore, he says, grass is perennial, does not require fertilization and can be grown on marginal farmland.

    "Any mixture of grasses can be used, cut in mid- to late summer, left in the field to leach out minerals, then baled and pelleted. Drying of the hay is not required for pelleting, making the cost of processing less than with wood pelleting," says Cherney. "The bottom line is that pelletized grass has the potential to be a major affordable, unsubsidized fuel source capable of meeting home and small business heating requirements at less cost than all available alternatives."

    Related World Wide Web sites: The following sites provide additional information on this news release. Some might not be part of the Cornell University community, and Cornell has no control over their content or availability.

    ยท Jerry Cherney:
  2. overrocked

    overrocked Premium Member

    Can't you use the same grass to feed cows, goats, or sheep, then burn the dung for fuel? What is the BTU of dung compared to grass, compared to wood????? nevermind the smell:@@:
  3. Young William

    Young William Premium Member

    Good Post!
    Yes, Europe has been doing it, but in most places in the U.S., someone would be at your door!.........It's a great idea, however, remember all of the things that we're collectively supposed to be scared of...........somewhere at the bottom of the "Well."
  4. mscbkc070904

    mscbkc070904 Premium Member

    I was watching HGTV earlier, the show Curb Appeal, and the home they were redoing wanted enviromental & recycled material used. Well this place they went to that have the old timber from torn down buildings, has trucks that run off restaurant grease recycled for fuel. I have never heard that before. Its supposedly very safe, economical, engine life runs longer, better mileage and enviromentally safe. Anyone ever heard of this?
  5. Young William

    Young William Premium Member

    But,.......Well I wish someone would introduce the "Mover and Shaker" "factor.'
  6. mscbkc070904

    mscbkc070904 Premium Member

    Mover & Shaker factor??? explain or define what that is please.
  7. Young William

    Young William Premium Member

    All Right,
    Without becoming too political, I'll cite the most recent U.S. "Presedential" race.............
    Both Kerry and Bush debated on television in front of a National audience... I figure to stoke the fires of the JFK-Nixon "approach."
    Both Kerry and Bush were "educated" at Yale.....and "by chance" they discovered the "Skull and Bones" society...........?????????
  8. drlau

    drlau Premium Member

    Very interesting. I wonder how this would develop with funding.

    Y.W. - let's try to keep the posts on topic.

    ID is not the place to discuss politics and conspiracy-related material. ATS and [email protected] are both better suited for those types of discussions.

  9. sab

    sab Premium Member

    now i just need to figure out how to make my lawn mower run on the grass it cuts.

    i bet that there is an easy way to produce biodiesel and ethanol from the grass.

    i know you can make biodiesel from anything green.
  10. johnpierce79

    johnpierce79 New Member

    A group of researchers at Oklahoma State University (USA) has received a $20 million grant to work on converting grasses into biofuels.
    The Oklahoma Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research has received a combined $20 million from the National Science Foundation and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
    Researchers will use the money to conduct basic research on switchgrass, a perennial native to Oklahoma that can be converted into biofuel.
    Researchers also will be working with other plant and feedstock varieties, like Bermuda grass. They will use the money to hire new faculty, buy supplies and materials, and conduct an outreach education program.
  11. pdoke2003

    pdoke2003 Premium Member

    switch grass is already used as the primary source of ethanol in many south american countries who depend very strongly on it as a fuel source for internal combustion engines. Ethanol has great potential as a replacement for Petroleum based combustion fuels the reason it has thus far failed so miserably here in the U.S.(besides the obvious political presures) is that we decided to use a corn as the basis for it. Not only is corn a food crop but it also has a relitively low yield of ethanol per acre when compared to many other plants.