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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Energy balance of switchgrass grown for cellulosic ethanol in the Northern Great Plains, USA

Authors
item Schmer, Marty
item Vogel, Kenneth
item Mitchell, Robert
item Perrin, Richard - UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA

Submitted to: American Chemical Society National Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 20, 2006
Publication Date: March 27, 2007
Repository URL: http://acswebcontent.acs.org/communications/chicago07/sustainability.html
Citation: Schmer, M.R., Vogel, K.P., Mitchell, R., Perrin, R.K. 2007. Energy balance of switchgrass grown for cellulosic ethanol in the Northern Great Plains, USA. 23rd American Chemical Society Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL. March 27, 2007.

Interpretive Summary: Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a potential, herbaceous feedstock for cellulosic ethanol in the USA. Estimates on switchgrass energy inputs and ethanol energy yields are highly variable and are largely based on small-plot research. A five year, field scale trial was completed on 10 farms in the Northern Great Plains to evaluate the energy balance for switchgrass grown for cellulosic ethanol. Energy balances were calculated using an energy and resources model based on known energy inputs. Nitrogen fertilizer, diesel fuel, and herbicides accounted for 62, 17, and 10%, respectively, of average agricultural energy inputs. The analysis based on farm production data indicated that switchgrass on average could produce an estimated 13.5 units of energy (Mega joules) from ethanol for each unit of energy input from petroleum.

Technical Abstract: Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a potential, herbaceous feedstock for cellulosic ethanol in the USA. Estimates on switchgrass energy inputs and ethanol energy yields are highly variable and are largely based on small-plot research. A five year, field scale trial was completed on 10 farms in the Northern Great Plains to evaluate the energy balance for switchgrass grown for cellulosic ethanol. Energy balances were calculated using the energy and resources group biofuel analysis meta-model (EBAMM) model based on known farm inputs. Nitrogen fertilizer, diesel fuel, and herbicides accounted for 62, 17, and 10%, respectively, of average agricultural energy inputs. Net energy values averaged 21.6 MJ L-1 with a range of 16.9 to 23.7 MJ L-1 for the ten farms. The EBAMM model showed that switchgrass on average produced an estimated 13.5 MJ of ethanol for one MJ input of petroleum.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
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