High-tech Agriculture: Miscanthus


The miscanthus belongs to the Genus Gramineae which is native to subtropical and tropical area. The project use miscanthus developed roots to improve and adsorbed composition of the soil. The professor research team of University of Bonn will choose varieties according to soil composition of different area. The technology is widely applied in Germany and the effect is significant.

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Miscanthus has been trialed as a biofuel in Europe since the early 1980s. It can grow to heights of more than 3.5 m in one growth season. Its dry weight annual yield can reach 25 tonnes per hectare (10 tonnes per acre). It is sometimes called "elephant grass", so is thus confused with the African grass Pennisetum purpureum, also called that.

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The rapid growth, low mineral content, and high biomass yield of Miscanthus make it a favorite choice as a biofuel. Miscanthus can be used as input for ethanol production, often outperforming corn and other alternatives in terms of biomass and gallons of ethanol produced. Additionally, after harvest, it can be burned to produce heat and steam for power turbines. In addition to the amount of CO2 emissions from burning the crop, any fossil fuels that might have been used in planting, fertilizing, harvesting, and processing the crop, as well as in transporting the biofuel to the point of use, must also be considered when evaluating its carbon load. Its advantage, though, is that it is not usually consumed by humans, making it a more available crop for ethanol and biofuel, than, say, corn and sugarcane. When mixed 50%-50% with coal, Miscanthus biomass can be used in some current coal-burning power plants without modifications.