Submitted to: National Conference on Biomass Energy
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/30/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Energy production from biomass is becoming increasingly popular. In Minnesota a group composed of a farmer cooperative, energy industry officials, and university and USDA-ARS scientists has been involved in production of energy from gasification of alfalfa stems. The ash produced as a byproduct of gasification represents a challenge for the stakeholders involved in this and other biomass programs. If beneficial uses are developed for these byproducts, then a potential liability can be turned into a potential asset and will help insure long-term viability of biomass energy production. A multi-phase project was initiated in 1996 to 1) characterize the ash byproduct; 2) evaluate plant and soil response in the greenhouse; and 3) evaluate plant and soil response in the field. Alfalfa stem ash contained several plant nutrients and showed promising potential as a liming agent. For example, available K2O and P2O5 contents of the ash hwere 12-14% and 1.8-2.4%, respectively, and its pH ranged from 10-14. The content of heavy metals were below the detection limits of EPA approved analytical methods. Concentration of dioxins, furans, total dioxins, and total furans were below the ug/kg detection levels. Additional analysis of organic compounds will be performed. Preliminary results of the greenhouse study with corn indicated that ash was a good source of potassium in two representative Minnesota soils. Ash was also an effective liming agent in a sandy acid soil. These results will be used to design experiments for field evaluation of the ash as an agricultural amendment.