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Old 02-14-2011, 08:17 PM
 
Location: Texas
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Fermentation research by Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Jonathan Mielenz confirmed that The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation had developed a strain of switchgrass that produces about 33 percent more ethanol than conventional switchgrass.
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Old 02-18-2011, 04:29 PM
 
Location: South of Maine
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Post Pros and Cons of Switchgrass

"Advantages and Disadvantages of switchgrass as Biomass.

"The cultivation of switchgrass by farmers in America as a biomass for fuel is increasing; however there are advantages and disadvantages in the processing of switchgrass as listed below:
Advantages

1. "Cultivation and Harvesting of Switchgrass.
  • Can grow in drought or very wet conditions.
  • Can grow in soil of poor condition.
  • Can improve the condition of poor soil.
  • Ability to produce high yields with little use of fertilizer/herbicides.
  • Does not require replanting every year, the original plants can last as long as 20 years.
2. "Can be processed to produce liquid fuel or solid fuel for the domestic or industrial markets.

3. "Classed as renewable energy source with zero carbon emissions.

Disadvantages
1. "Switchgrass biomass contains sulfur, so when combusted the fumes if not treated can emit SO2 to the atmosphere causing acid rain. The fumes also contain particulates that are very harmful to the breathing system if inhaled.
2. "Some power plants using switchgrass as a co-firing fuel have had complaints from locals on air quality/emission standards. Third world countries are especially guilty of emitting SO2 and particulates to the atmosphere
2. "Harvested switchgrass is normally baled; these are large and weigh 1000lbs; being expensive to transport these also require stored under cover and clear of the ground.]
3. "The ground used to cultivate switchgrass could be used to grow food – ongoing debate regarding food or fuel.


Pros and Cons of Switchgrass as a Biomass for Fuel
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Old 02-18-2011, 06:09 PM
 
Location: Texas
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Nice reply.

I did read information about the Conservation Reserve Program, as well. It's often thought of as a political issue. For example, there are a number of people who say farmers shouldn't be paid 'not' to grow things. I've often argued that unregulated crops can cause profits to plummet because farmers would tend to grow "fence row to fence row." Too much of a crop can cause the price to go down, meaning farmers would make nothing, barring a bad weather, too much rain, or hail.
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Old 02-18-2011, 06:25 PM
 
28,785 posts, read 45,117,975 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by round tuit View Post
"Advantages and Disadvantages of switchgrass as Biomass.

"The cultivation of switchgrass by farmers in America as a biomass for fuel is increasing; however there are advantages and disadvantages in the processing of switchgrass as listed below:
Advantages

1. "Cultivation and Harvesting of Switchgrass.
  • Can grow in drought or very wet conditions.
  • Can grow in soil of poor condition.
  • Can improve the condition of poor soil.
  • Ability to produce high yields with little use of fertilizer/herbicides.
  • Does not require replanting every year, the original plants can last as long as 20 years.
2. "Can be processed to produce liquid fuel or solid fuel for the domestic or industrial markets.

3. "Classed as renewable energy source with zero carbon emissions.

Disadvantages
1. "Switchgrass biomass contains sulfur, so when combusted the fumes if not treated can emit SO2 to the atmosphere causing acid rain. The fumes also contain particulates that are very harmful to the breathing system if inhaled.
2. "Some power plants using switchgrass as a co-firing fuel have had complaints from locals on air quality/emission standards. Third world countries are especially guilty of emitting SO2 and particulates to the atmosphere
2. "Harvested switchgrass is normally baled; these are large and weigh 1000lbs; being expensive to transport these also require stored under cover and clear of the ground.]
3. "The ground used to cultivate switchgrass could be used to grow food – ongoing debate regarding food or fuel.


Pros and Cons of Switchgrass as a Biomass for Fuel
Interesting. I have some comments.

If switchgrass grows in poor soil how is it impinging on growing food crops?

If it improves soil wouldn't it be a great rotational crop? Especially since it doesn't require a high use of fertilizer or herbicides? Biomass one year corn or beans the next.

While baling may seem to be a problem farmers all over the country do it all the time. They also transport those bales so it seems to me to be a non-issue.

The sulfur content bothers me, but if it becomes a viable source I would expect a solution to be found.

It certainly wouldn't hurt to have an alternative to corn as biomass since the price of corn and as a result food products and anything else that uses corn as an ingredient is rising quickly.

Of course if the cost to produce ethanol using switchgrass can't be competitive with corn it won't happen.
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Old 02-18-2011, 09:34 PM
 
Location: South of Maine
737 posts, read 968,797 times
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This will be my crude attempt to multi-quote. This is a new topic to me, so bear with me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tek_Freek View Post
Interesting. I have some comments.

If switchgrass grows in poor soil how is it impinging on growing food crops?
(The long-term sustainability of this biofuel is not known). “ Using 120 million acres for biofuel production is probably not sustainable and would impinge on food and environmental needs. Using 36 million acres sounds better, but if the feedstock is not grown with conservation in mind (i.e., if it degrades rather than enhances the land), then 36 million is far too much as well".
http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5600

If it improves soil wouldn't it be a great rotational crop? Especially since it doesn't require a high use of fertilizer or herbicides? Biomass one year corn or beans the next.
It does not require replanting every year, the original plants can last as long as 20 years. (It would not be a rotating crop itself, and end up being a dedicated crop) “Switchgrass is big and it's tough—after a good growing season, it can stand 10 feet high, with stems as thick and strong as hardwood pencils".

While baling may seem to be a problem farmers all over the country do it all the time. They also transport those bales so it seems to me to be a non-issue.
(I agree. Some have used the smaller, 3- by 4- by 8-foot because of ease of handling and storage.)

The sulfur content bothers me, but if it becomes a viable source I would expect a solution to be found.
(Interesting side trip) “When Nature ferments grapes, or any other fruit for that matter, wine is not the end product. Instead, unpleasant concoctions containing vinegars, mercaptans and other substances are formed, with the final end being water and assorted solids and gases".
“Although most good winemaking involves interfering with Nature as little as possible nonetheless we need to steer her a bit, and in fact completely stop some natural processes at just the right moment. An indispensable ally of the winemaker in achieving these things is sulphur dioxide.We will refer to it by its chemical formula, SO2 to do the following things for us: inhibit wild and spoilage yeasts and unwanted bacteria (this can include the malolactic bacteria at sufficiently high SO2 levels); help prevent oxidation and preserve fruity flavour and freshness in wine".

It certainly wouldn't hurt to have an alternative to corn as biomass since the price of corn and as a result food products and anything else that uses corn as an ingredient is rising quickly. Of course if the cost to produce ethanol using switchgrass can't be competitive with corn it won't happen.
(I agree that the cost of production is the key to its future) “The main advantage of using switchgrass over corn as an ethanol feedstock is its cost of production is generally about 1/2 that of grain corn, and more biomass energy per hectare can be captured in the field. Thus, switchgrass cellulosic ethanol should give a higher yield of ethanol per hectare at lower cost. However, this will depend on whether the cost of constructing and operating cellulosic ethanol plants can be reduced considerably. (I guess if we had to "grow" our own coal supply each year, the price of coal would be out of sight)

Last edited by round tuit; 02-18-2011 at 09:54 PM..
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Old 02-18-2011, 09:55 PM
 
28,785 posts, read 45,117,975 times
Reputation: 37842
(The long-term sustainability of this biofuel is not known). “ Using 120 million acres for biofuel production is probably not sustainable and would impinge on food and environmental needs. Using 36 million acres sounds better, but if the feedstock is not grown with conservation in mind (i.e., if it degrades rather than enhances the land), then 36 million is far too much as well.

1. "Cultivation and Harvesting of Switchgrass.
  • Can grow in drought or very wet conditions. (In areas where we don't grow food)
  • Can grow in soil of poor condition. (In areas where we don't grow food)
  • Can improve the condition of poor soil. (I see no negative here)
  • Ability to produce high yields with little use of fertilizer/herbicides. (Again no negative - or perhaps less of one)
  • Does not require replanting every year, the original plants can last as long as 20 years.
2. "Can be processed to produce liquid fuel or solid fuel for the domestic or industrial markets.

3. "Classed as renewable energy source with zero carbon emissions.

And -

(I agree that the cost of production is the key to its future) “The main advantage of using switchgrass over corn as an ethanol feedstock is its cost of production is generally about 1/2 that of grain corn, and more biomass energy per hectare can be captured in the field. Thus, switchgrass cellulosic ethanol should give a higher yield of ethanol per hectare at lower cost. However, this will depend on whether the cost of constructing and operating cellulosic ethanol plants can be reduced considerably. (I guess if we had to "grow" our own coal supply each year, the price of coal would be out of sight)

The Feds are already subsidizing ethanol production from corn. If they do the same for switchgrass will the cost to produce be competitive?
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