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Phalaris arundinacea can save the planet!
    #4139447 - 05/05/05 10:02 PM (12 years, 11 months ago)

I wonder if DMT would crystalize on the inside of the chimney.

Canarygrass as biofuel.

Grass Bioenergy in the Northeastern USA

J.H. Cherney *, P.B. Woodbury, S.D. DeGloria

Use of herbaceous biomass for energy production can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the northeastern USA. Our objective was to evaluate the potential for grass production in New York State and to develop agronomic management strategies to improve the energy characteristics of this feedstock. The northeastern USA has a considerable acreage of unused or underutilized agricultural land. The estimated potential underutilized crop area in New York State is approximately 1.5 million acres, based on data from satellite imagery and the census of agriculture. Some of this land is reverting back to woody growth while some of it is in government programs. Much of this land has encountered difficulties growing row crops and is in some type of grassland. Almost all of this land could grow grass crops for bioenergy, regardless of how marginal the soils are for agricultural production. Potential yield estimates of 1.25 ton/acre unimproved grassland, and 2.5 ton/acre for managed switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) and reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea L.) were selected as economic cutoff values for production of these crops. Based on these economic cutoffs reed canarygrass could be established on 96% of currently unused acreage, while switchgrass could be economically established on 80% of this acreage. Without any fertilization or other inputs approximately 81% of this unused land could be economically harvested once a year for biomass. Based on soil-specific predicted crop yields approximately 6 million tons of reed canarygrass could be produced on these lands in New York State. Ash content of grasses has a major impact on combustion value of the feedstock. Six fields of mixed cool-season grasses with some legumes and weeds were cut in August 2004 and harvested two to three weeks after cutting using commercial hay equipment to evaluate ash reduction strategies. Primary species were timothy (Phleum pratense L.), tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.), alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), tall oatgrass (Arrhenatherum elatius L.), goldenrod (Solidago canadensis L.) and bedstraw (Galium aparine L.). The range in ash content of these primarily grass mixtures was 3.9-5.2%. Energy value of grass ranged from 19.6-21.2 MJ/kg, compared to 21.7 MJ/kg for premium wood pellets. All grass samples contained 0.01% sodium, while potassium content ranged from 0.43-0.82%. Sulfur ranged from 0.09-0.12% and chloride ranged from 0.01 to 0.04%. This compares to premium wood pellets with ash = 1%, sodium = 0.02%, potassium = 0.10%, and no detectable sulfur or chloride. Grass pellets are currently being tested in pellet stoves, pellet boilers and gasifiers in Europe and North America. Grass biofuel pellets emit up to 90% less greenhouse gasses than conventional energy sources such as oil, coal and natural gas. If approximately 5.5% of all residential buildings in New York State were heated with pelleted grass or wood, this could offset 100% of all greenhouse gas emissions attributed to agriculture in New York State. Perennial grass is ideal for animal manure nutrient management, soil conservation, maintaining open spaces, and compatible with wildlife nesting opportunities. A simple one cut per season perennial grass biomass program has maximum sustainability for an agricultural cropping system. Grass pellet biofuel is a very promising sustainable, economically-viable, and environmentally-friendly alternative energy source. It has great potential for near-term implementation and positive impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

Peletizing grass for use as fuel.

Don't let grass grow under your feet -- burn it as economical, environmentally friendly biofuel, Cornell expert urges
ITHACA, N.Y. -- 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."


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Mushrooms, Mycology and Psychedelics >> The Ethnobotanical Garden

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