Arundo Donax: An Old Plant, A New Source Of Energy
Great Biofuel Potential For A Non-Edible Plant
What is Arundo Donax?
Arundo Donax is a large cane plant that is native to Asia and parts of Africa. It is currently showing great potential as a biofuel producing plant, and as a feedstock for producing cellulosic ethanol. Despite being native to these portions of the world humans have brought it to Europe and North America, showing that it can thrive in versatile climates.
The stem of the Arundo Donax plant is very durable and sturdy and has been used throughout human history to make fishing poles, walking sticks, and many different types of flutes. Currently they are used to make the reeds for woodwind instruments like the clarinet, saxophone, oboe, and bassoon, but recent studies are showing the potential this plant has to be converted into biofuel.
Arundo Donax has great biofuel potential because of how large the plant is and how fast it can grow. Arundo Donax grows to heights between 20 and 33 feet tall on average, and can be harvested twice a year per field it is grown on. Large amounts of fertilizer are NOT needed to grow this plant, and additionally it is also resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses. This means it does not require a lot of pesticide thus saving farmers or growers of this plant a considerable amount of money.
Arundo Donax has also shown to offer protection against soil erosion and land degradation, and it even has even adapted to grow in saline (salt) land and water. This ability to grow in harsher conditions and on harsher lands means that Arundo Donax will not need fertile land that is required to grow food crops, another major benefit.
Arundo Donax yields approximately 8,000-8,400 BTU’s of energy per pound, and about 20-25 tons of the plant can be produced per acre. These energy yields plus its ability to grow in difficult areas makes this plant a great choice for producing biofuel.
Arundo Donax is already beginning to be applied to biofuel production. Midway through 2012, construction on the largest cellulosic ethanol facility in the world will be completed in Italy. The Crescentino Plant will be able to produce over 13 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol a year. The primary feedstock for this plant will be Arundo Donax.
As the world continues to look towards alternative forms of energy, Arundo Donax looks to be another potential and realistic source of alternative energy.