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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Transfer of ARS Nirs Calibrations for Switchgrass Biomass Composition for Bioenergy to Research Laboratories and Bioenergy Industries

Location: Grain, Forage & Bioenergy Research

2012 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The objective of this cooperative technology transfer project is to transfer near infrared reflectance spectrometry (NIRS) calibrations for switchgrass composition developed by the Grain, Forage, and Bioenergy Research Unit (GFBRU), Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (ARS) to other public and private laboratories conducting research on developing switchgrass into a biomass energy crop and to industries who are using or will use switchgrass for biomass energy.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
ARS will provide its switchgrass NIRS calibrations and associated technology to the NIRS Forage and Feed Testing Consortium (NIRSC) who will make them available to its members. The NIRS Consortium (NIRSC) is an association of commercial laboratories, universities, government groups, plant research companies, and instrument companies. The consortium members collaborates together to unify knowledge, accuracy, and application of NIRS technology. Laboratories share in efforts and costs to produce standardized calibrations for use. The NIRSC supports its members in use of calibrations and instrumentation to determine composition of agricultural products. NIRSC requires its members to meet specific laboratory standards to ensure accuracy of the NIRS analytical results.


3.Progress Report:

Near infrared reflectance spectrometry (NIRS) calibrations for switchgrass biomass composition developed cooperatively by ARS scientists at Lincoln, NE, Peoria, IL, St. Paul, MN, and Madison, WI were transferred to the NIRS Forage and Feed Testing Consortium (NIRSC) NIRS Consortium along with five switchgrass standard sample sets which had previously been characterized for biomass composition. To date, the NIRSC has transferred these calibration sets and standards to 19 laboratories for their use in determining the composition of switchgrass biomass. The switchgrass NIRS calibrations which are described in detail by Vogel et al., Bioenergy Research 4:96-110, enable these laboratories to rapidly determine 20 compositional components of switchgrass biomass including cell wall sugars, soluble sugars, lignin, released and fermented glucose from cell wall cellulose, released cell wall pentoses, and other biomass quality attributes. The cost of these analyses using conventional laboratory methods can range from $300 to $2000 per sample depending on the extent of the analyses. The per sample cost for NIRS analyses of switchgrass biomass samples using the ARS developed NIRS calibrations is approximately $5 per sample including equipment costs.


Last Modified: 7/31/2014
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