Conversion of Non-tilled Lands for Biofuel Production: Determination of Grasses and Estimation of Biomass Using Geo and Chemical Techniques
Gija Geme, Kristopher Beach, Scott McKay, Heather Short

Biomass to fuel is quickly gaining popularity due to its carbon neutral status and the cost volatility of the traditional fossil fuel resources. Sulfur and nitrogen emissions from biomass fuels are greatly reduced compared to fossil fuels. Biomass feedstock’s, such as switch grasses, require minimal fertilizers, labor, and land management. Typically, switch grasses may be harvested twice a year and need to be re-planted every ten years. Five areas of the University of Central Missouri (UCM) campus were investigated for potential biomass production. The acreages were found using geographic information system (GIS) analysis and the “improved” areas were eliminated from the total available acreage. The potential energy that UCM could produce and the cost savings realized from farm gate prices were estimated. From the calculations, UCM could potentially produce ~35 million total kWh per year from the combined biomass produced at UCM which more than enough to power UCM while sequestering more than 1,000 tons of carbon per year. The actual energy balance may be significantly lower and depends on local circumstances including transportation, land management, and energy plant efficiency. The initial study showed that soil for switch grass planting was rich in macronutrients and micronutrients.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jaes.v5n13