August 11, 2008

Miscanthus beats switchgrass for ethanol

Corn is not an efficient feedstock for making ethanol because it takes a lot of energy and chemicals to produce. Researchers have been looking at switchgrass as a more efficient alternative. It turns out that another plant, miscanthus, is even better.

A three-year study of miscanthus, switchgrass and corn found that miscanthus yields three times more harvestable biomass per acre as switchgrass. Achieving the government's goal of replacing 20 percent of gasoline with biofuel would take up 9.3 percent of current US cropland using miscanthus versus 25 percent using corn or switchgrass.

Research paper:
Meeting US Biofuel Goals with Less Land: the Potential of Miscanthus
Global Change Biology, September 2008

Researcher's homepage:
Stephen P. Long

Related stories and briefs:
Biofuels' down side -- a caution on converting cropland and uncultivated land to biofuel
Switchgrass rules ethanol efficiency -- a comparison of switchgrass and corn

Back to ERN August 11/18, 2008



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