2011 Annual Report
a. Evaluation of selected perennial grasses and legumes for biofuel production in central North Dakota. Ten (10) treatments of individual and conglomerate perennial biomass species samples from Williston and Minot were used for carbohydrate compositional analysis and used with biomass yield data to project potential ethanol yields on a mass and area basis. Compositional analysis data from these and other samples were also used to develop an NIR model for rapid prediction of mixed biomass chemical composition. This data was used for a MS thesis.
Perennial biofuel plots, initiated in 2010 at NGPRL and a Ducks Unlimited site continued to be monitored in 2010. Plots were harvested in Sept. 2010. Plots will be maintained throughout the growing season and will be harvested in the fall of 2011, after the first frost. Harvest data was reported in the CGREC Annual Report which was distributed throughout the state of North Dakota and to all Land Grant Colleges. Results are posted to the CGREC web site. Current results may be viewed at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/CentralGrasslandsREC/cgrec-annual-reports-1/2010-report/Biofuels_Report.pdf
b. Evaluate Miscanthus Yield Potential in the Northern Great Plains. Miscanthus rhizomes planted under a rainout shelter in summer 2010 were left out during the 2010-2011 winter and survival was evaluated in spring 2011. From June -- August 2011, miscanthus, switchgrass and western wheatgrass were watered at normal or 150% of normal precipitation. Yield, persistence and water use efficiency will be evaluated for all three species following the fall biomass harvest. These data will be used to estimate the suitability of miscanthus as a potential biofuel crop in the Northern Great Plains.
c. Biomass densification and storage. A pellet mill with accessories such as spare dies, rollers, and bearings, suitable for biomass densification was purchased, installed, and successfully tested. Stable pellets were obtained from the supplied finely ground test material (< 1/8” particle size). Densification studies on samples of switchgrass and smooth bromegrass are in progress to determine the effect of densification on the cellulosic ethanol downstream production. The effect of pellet size (die hole dimension) is also considered in this study.
The evaluation of size reduction and particle size distribution of several species of local biomass using lab scale knife grinder, Wiley mill, and hammer mill is also under progress. Machine vision method is being used to determine the particle size distribution and the results compared with mechanical sieving using standard sieves. A review of physical and mechanical properties of biomass and their products is also progressing simultaneously.
ADODR monitoring was done via personal visits, phone calls and emails.