Gallery: Grass Could Become the World’s Next Big Biofuel Source


Miscanthus photo from Shutterstock

Scientists have figured out how to make biofuels with everything from algae to bacteria poop, and now they are turning to grass. A new European research project called GrassMargins seeks to discover a new perennial grass that can grow year round for use as biofuel. If successful, the project could offer a renewable source of energy that grows virtually everywhere, which would increase the availability of clean fuels while lowering their price. But first, they have to figure out which grass grows best.

The project’s main goal is to pick out a grass crop that can grow across large swaths of marginal lands that aren’t suitable for growing food crops. The research is a massive collaboration between organizations and universities such as Teagasc, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and The University of Sheffield to list a few. The European Union invested its own interest in the project as Ireland has to contend with waterlogged soil prone to flooding, northern Europe has cold temperatures, and southern Europe has salt tolerance issues.

One of the standout candidates the researchers picked is Miscanthus from southeast Asia. As a perennial grass, it requires no nitrogen or herbicide, and it grows fast as a non-invasive species, so it’s unlikely to grow on top of any domestic plants. Miscanthus produces 15 to 25 tons per hectare from very fertile lands, although the researchers expect yields from marginal lands to be lower. The scientists are also looking at other local grasses including fescue, orchard grass, and canary reed grass.

These grasses could potentially be added as feedstock for anaerobic digesters to produce liquid fuel. Alternately, farmers could use baled grass in a combustion facility to produce energy or heat.

+ GrassMargins

Via PhysOrg

Images © nationalrural (1) (2) and Kanegen


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  1. dadunn December 23, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    when a crop becomes big, and take over the land it then kills off all other forms of ecosystem within the soil and those that the land used to support, like palm oil plantations the soil becomes baron and has little benefit to man except for the crop grown , this will gradually yield less each year and will slowly have a reduce capacity to filter water, claen the air and sequestrate carbon, a mixed crop must be grown to avoid this.

  2. Tiger-Pi December 19, 2013 at 6:28 am

    We had horses, bullocks and mules , fed with grass, before the advent of fossil fuel vehicles. So we are going back to the past to feed our vehicles with good old grass. So why not just bring back our old friends, the horses, mules,donkeys, bullocks,camels, sheep and huskies?

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