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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Florence, South Carolina » Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #242848

Title: Potential of summer legumes for thermochemical conversion to synthetic fuel

item Cantrell, Keri
item Bauer, Philip
item Ro, Kyoung

Submitted to: ASABE Annual International Meeting
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/5/2009
Publication Date: 8/21/2009
Citation: Cantrell, K.B., Bauer, P.J., Ro, K.S. 2009. Potential of summer legumes for thermochemical conversion to synthetic fuel. In: American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers Annual Meeting, Paper # 09-6758, June 21-24, 2009, Reno, Nevada. 10 pp.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Summer legumes are commonly used worldwide in crop rotations as a nitrogen source. One particular legume, sunn hemp (Crotolaria juncea), is a fast growing, high biomass yielding, tropical legume that may be a possible southeastern bioenergy crop. When comparing this legume to a commonly grown summer legume—cowpeas, sunn hemp was superior in biomass yield and subsequent energy yield. Interlinked with energy yield, the sunn hemp energy content at the greatest maturity sampled (after 12 weeks) was 19.0 megajoules per kilogram. This was 6% greater than that of cowpeas. Even though sunn hemp had a greater amount of ash, plant nutrient concentrations were lower in some cases of minerals, like potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur, known to reduce thermochemical conversion process efficiency. Pyrolytic degradation of both legumes revealed that sunn hemp began to degrade at higher temperatures as well as release more volatile matter. This volatile matter would be amenable to downstream conversion processes to generate either heat or synthetic fuels.