Study Highlights Prairie Grass' Potential as Biomass Fuel SourceStudy Highlights Prairie Grass' Potential as Biomass Fuel Source
grown for biofuel production produced 540 percent more energy than
needed to grow, harvest and process it into cellulosic ethanol,
according to estimates from a large on-farm study by researchers at the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Results from the five-year study involving fields on farms in three
states highlight the prairie grass' potential as a biomass fuel source
that yields significantly more energy than is consumed in production
and conversion into cellulosic ethanol, said Ken Vogel, a U.S.
Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service geneticist in
UNL's agronomy and horticulture department.
The study involved switchgrass fields on farms in Nebraska, North
Dakota and South Dakota. It is the largest study to date examining the
net energy output, greenhouse gas emissions, biomass yields,
agricultural inputs and estimated cellulosic ethanol production from
switchgrass grown and managed for biomass fuel.
"This clearly demonstrates that switchgrass is not only energy
efficient, but can be used in a renewable biofuel economy to reduce
reliance on fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance
rural economies," Vogel said.
The joint USDA-ARS and Institute of Agriculture and Natural
Resources study also found that greenhouse gas emissions from
cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass were 94 percent lower than
estimated greenhouse gas emissions from gasoline production.
Researchers reported their findings in the Jan.7-11 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research paper is available online at http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0704767105v1.