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Biofuels: Switchgrass

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Joseph Hountalas

on 7 November 2012

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Transcript of Biofuels: Switchgrass

Switchgrass derived Ethanol as a biofuel So.... What exactly is a biofuel? Angelique Theriault, Silka Hsu, Sara Renaud,
Sophie Lewycky, Marie Liang, Joseph Hountalas According to the Merriam-Webster collegiate dictionary a biofuel is: A fuel composed of or produced from biological raw materials. Switchgrass: Is a plant with very deep roots, 12ft to be exact. It dominates the North American tall grass parries when it starts growing in late spring. Switchgrass is water efficient, reduces the use of pesticide, and reduces soil erosion. These are a few of the reason that we chose switchgrass as our biofuel. Switchgrass to ethanol 1. Pre-treatment
2. Enzymatic hydrolysis
3. Fermentation
4. Distillation
5. By-product utilization First the switchgrass cells are made susceptible to attacks by enzymes, the enzymes convert the carbohydrates into fermentable sugars, the sugars are then fermented to make ethanol, dilute ethanol is purified out of the broth and the leftover lignin is burnt to provide the engery for the whole conversion process. Regular, everyday, normal guy: Farmers: do they like switchgrass as a biofuel? There are many advantages for farmers in the planting of switchgrass: Switchgrass is harvested with the same equipment as other crops. It is also harvested in the fall time when that equipment is not in use. Also: it can be rotated with other farm crops, already produced by farmers, and can be hayed or grazed for feeding livestock if necessary. It is very easy to grow, and adaptable to many weather conditions, and needs very little fertilizer. Panicium virgatum •Native to North America, occurring naturally from Canada to Mexico•Dominant species – takes over other crops planted near it easily•Used primarily for soil conservation, food for farm animals, ornamental grass, and (obviously) as a crop to make ethanol and butanol•Perennial – will grow back every year without need to replant or keep warm during the winter•Can grow up to 2.7 meters high (approx. 8.9 feet)•Can resist drought and high temperatures•Each plant produces many seeds, and self-seeds•Once planted, a switchgrass can survive for ten years or longer•Versatile and adaptable – will grow and thrive in many weather conditions, lengths of growing seasons, and land conditions•Typically grown on land considered unsuitable for other crops (too humid, too shallow, etc)•Can be used as a substitute for straw or hay Using ethanol derived from switchgrass would not be beneficial to the everyday work commuter because gas prices would rise. Although by the gallon, ethanol (E85) is significantly cheater, it also has 28% less energy then gasoline, therefore resulting in a 20-30% drop in fuel efficiency. The cost of extra fill-ups will easily surpass the saving at the pumps. Government Green party (Adriane Carr) :

-strong supporter of switchgrass (use as a biofuel) → -builds soil fertility
-requires low input
-withstands floods and droughts well
-increases biodiversity (provides habitats for birds, butterflies and other pollinators) Agricultural companies - E85 has 70% less carbon monoxide emission then conventional gas Fuel Manufacturers A measure of the total upstream cost to produce crude oil and natural gas. The price of oil has bounced between $95 and $110 a barrel over the past six months. If biofuels, such as switchgrass, were to be used as a major alternative energy source in Canada, then there would be a large decrease in the consummation of fossil fuels and diesel gas.
In result, a multi-billion dollar industry would lose a large amount of its customers and the majority of the oil companies would go under, this is including all production and manufacturing parties.
We would therefore rely on biofuels, which are a renewable energy source and cheaper to produce, so it would cause a negative impact on all the other companies not dealing with biofuels.
The oil companies would lost a lot of money as oil prices drop and many people would lose their jobs as gasoline becomes less and less significant and biofuels slowly take over.
As well, all the expensive machinery bought for these processes would become a big waste for the fuel manufacturers. Extra precautions have to be taken when planting switchgrass because it is an invasive plant. It can take over the surrounding land and can reduce biodiversity if it is not kept under control. Environmentalists Climate change analysts say that the substitution of biofuels will reduce the industrial and other emissions of CO2 and greenhouse gases. Furthermore, large areas of land, including agricultural land, can be converted and used for the production of biomass feedstocks. They like the idea of using switchgrass as a biofuel - it lets an invasive species that would otherwise likely dominate their crop have a use and make them money. Because biofuels would be more adaptable to multiple things than just regular crops (to power homes and vehicles, for example), companies are tempted by the future prospects. Many companies contribute research dollars to help further explore switchgrass as a biofuel in the hopes that it will pay off. Because it's versatile and can grow almost anywhere, some are growing it on the land that isn't useful for other crops and keeping it contained there, as a way to earn extra money on the side. Some are even considering focusing more on switchgrass and other sources of biofuels, rather than their regular crops, because of the future opportunities to make more money. However, many companies don't bother, since it generally takes over the other plants, and it's too much of a hassle to deal with the rest of the crops, as well as keeping the switchgrass contained. Bibliographie: Works Cited
Berman, David. "The Globe and Mail." The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail's ReportonBusiness, 10 Sept. 2012. Web. 04 Nov. 2012. <>.
"Biofuels from Switchgrass: Greener Energy Pastures." Bioenergy Feedstock Development Program, n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2012. <>.
Brass, Larisa. "Sold on Switchgrass: Farmers Finding Gamble on Biofuel Crop Paying off." Knoxville News Sentinel. N.p., 12 Jan. 2012. Web. 03 Nov. 2012. <>.
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Elbersen, H. W. "Switchgrass as an Alternative Energy Crop." Summary. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Oct. 2012. <>.
Elbersen, H. W. "Switchgrass Nutrient Composition." ATO (Agrotechnological Research Institute), n.d. Web. 1 Oct. 2012. <>.
Marchetti, Nino. "Advanced BioFuels USA » Biofuels Research Project Aims To Study Sustainable Development." Advanced BioFuels USA » Biofuels Research Project Aims To Study Sustainable Development. N.p., 26 Oct. 2012. Web. 03 Nov. 2012. <>.
Mead, Derek. "Switchgrass as Ideal Biofuel Feedstock?" : Greentech Media. Greentechmedia, 13 Dec. 2011. Web. 28 Oct. 2012. <>.
News, Jerry Langton CBC. "Switchgrass: Finally a Viable Biofuel? - Technology & Science - CBC News." CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 09 June 2008. Web. 29 Sept. 2012. <>.
Panoutsou, Calliope. "Availability of Sustainable Biomass Feedstocks for Biofuels: Update on Key Issues." Biofuels Technology Platform, n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2012. <>.
R., Samson. "Switchgrass Production in Ontario: A Management Guide." Resource Efficient Agricultural Production (REAP) - Canada, 2007. Web. 29 Sept. 2012. <>.
Samson, Roger. "Switchgrass : A Living Solar Battery for the Praires." REAP Canada, n.d. Web. 1 Oct. 2012. <>.
"Search Results for 'switchgrass'" Biofuels Digest. Biofuels Digest, n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2012. <>.
Suzuki, David. "Fill 'er up with Switchgrass." David Suzuki Foundation. Science Matters, 8 Feb. 2008. Web. 29 Sept. 2012. <>. Switchgrass conversion to ethanol has proved that it can deliver more than five times more energy than it takes to grow it. (540%) although not ethanol.... there are other advances in the field that can save the everyday average Joe money....
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