Thursday, February 02, 2006

Bush getting amongst the switchgrass.

He said it in his state of the union speech, "ethanol ... from switch grass". So what is Switchgrass? America's addiction cure is home-grown native American grass (low fertiliser costs) that is readily harvestable and yields four units of energy in ethanol for every one unit of energy input into producing it. Ethanol production technologies from biomass such as switchgrass are close to breakthough stage, it has great credentials as an energy crop, and with the Bush-push on the future of switchgrass ethanol looks healthy and our long-term future, healthier.
Looking down the road, McLaughlin believes switchgrass offers important advantages as an energy crop. "Producing ethanol from corn requires almost as much energy to produce as it yields," he explains, "while ethanol from switchgrass can produce about five times more energy than you put in. When you factor in the energy required to make tractors, transport farm equipment, plant and harvest, and so on, the net energy output of switchgrass is about 20 times better than corn's." Switchgrass also does a far better job of protecting soil, virtually eliminating erosion. And it removes considerably more CO2 from the air, packing it away in soils and roots.


Test plots of switchgrass at Auburn University have produced up to 15 tons of dry biomass per acre, and five- year yields average 11.5 tons - enough to make 1,150 gallons of ethanol per acre each year.
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