Location: Soil and Water Conservation ResearchTitle: Chemical composition and bioethanol potential of different plant species found in Pacific Northwest conservation buffers Author
Submitted to: Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/25/2012
Publication Date: 11/26/2012
Citation: Kumar, D., Juneja, A., Hohenschuh, W.E., Williams, J.D., Murthy, G.S. 2012. Chemical composition and bioethanol potential of different plant species found in Pacific Northwest conservation buffers. Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy. DOI: 10.1063/1.4766889. Interpretive Summary: A potential source of lignocellulosic ethanol feedstocks are conservation buffers established to reduce soil loss, improve water quality, and provide wildlife habitat. Unlike cropland, conservation buffers are not monocultures but rather often a rich mix of many types of plants. We analyzed nine plant species commonly found in the inland Pacific Northwest (USA) conservation buffers for their suitability as biofuel feedstocks. Because at harvest these plant species are mixed non-uniformly, their biochemical differences are likely to complicate and reduce the production potential of ethanol from conservation buffers in the Pacific Northwest
Technical Abstract: Lands producing mixed lignocellulosic ethanol feedstocks may be able to produce more biomass with fewer resources than conventional monoculture crops, but lignocellulosic ethanol production processes and efficiencies can be highly dependent on feedstock composition. In this study, plants were collected from areas planted to simulate conservation buffers alongside stream channels within three common resource areas in the interior Pacific Northwest. Two grass and seven forb species commonly found in these buffers were examined to determine their chemical composition, potential bioethanol yields, and difficulties that may arise if they were to be harvested and processed in a single facility. Potential ethanol yields ranged from 181.5 to 316.5 L/dry ton of biomass, but significant differences were noted in terms of structural sugars (cellulose 19-33% w/w; hemicellulose 14-26% w/w), lignin (10-18% w/w), extractives (20-40% w/w), and ash content (4.0-13.8% w/w). These composition variations could vary the processing efficiency in terms of sugar recovery and eventual ethanol production yield.