Grass Energy is an Opportunity for Farmers

| 8/11/2014 3:38:00 PM

Tags: Grass Energy, Biomass Grass Crops, Switchgrass, Fuel Replacement, Renewable Energy,

Switchgrass Growing in the Field

Farmers and landowners want to lower fuel and feed costs, explore feed and fertilizer co-products, be more self-sufficient, and rely less of fossil fuels. Biomass grass crops can be established on marginal lands and processed as a fuel replacement for heating oil or propane, or as an addition to wood chips or pellets.

There are four main models for implementing grass energy on a farm. The models differ from each other in where the grass is grown and processed. Two are closed-loop models, in which the grass is grown and processed on-site, and the others are variations of processing the grass in a central facility and distributing production of the feedstock among regional farms.

Grass fuel can occur as bales that get chopped just prior to combustion or densified fuels like pellets, cubes, or briquettes. The densified fuels are made using machinery that applies high temperature and pressure to the chopped feedstock, pressing it into the desired shape. A series of dies and knives are responsible for cutting the fuel into its desired shape. Each of the four grass energy models, described below, produce one or two of these types of fuel.

Switchgrass Growing at University of Vermont
Switchgrass growing at the University of Vermont Horticulture Farm in South Burlington, Vermont. Credit: Vermont Bioenergy Initiative 

Closed Loop-No Processing: Grass fuel is grown on-site where it will be processed for heating fuel. The grass is harvested as usual, and stored and burned as bales. This requires a specific heating appliance designed to burn whole bales and significant storage space for the bales. While it is not economical to transport bales over great distances, this model can work among neighbors. For example, a school or prison with this heating system can contract with a neighboring farmer to produce the fuel bales. 

8/15/2014 8:59:13 AM

if this will help to end our dependence on foreign oil, natural gas, and coal, I'm all for it! If not, then it is god for nothing other than livestock food...which is not a bad Idea anyway...

8/12/2014 5:38:55 AM

I have been growing Miscanthus for years in Ireland for the local Power Station. See all about growing Miscanthus as a cheap fuel on my face book page. You will find it at ; Bill Madigan Miscanthus

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