New switchgrass varieties on 1000 acres in Tennessee

July 22, 2010 |

In Tennessee, researchers at the University of Tennessee, working with UT Extension biofuels specialists and partners at Ceres and Dupont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol, have planted 1000 acres of improved varieties of switchgrass across nine counties, and will compare results with 1000 acres planted with standard “Alamo” switchgrass for comparative purposes.

The improved switchgrass varieties were developed by the biotechnology company Ceres. They are sold under the company’s Blade Energy Crops brand as EG 1101 (an improved Alamo variety) and EG 1102 (an improved Kanlow variety). The Genera Energy/DDCE demonstration-scale biorefinery in Vonore, Tenn., will process the dedicated energy crop into cellulosic ethanol.

The research team said that their University of Tennessee Biofuels Initiative  project will have four phases: comparing the large-scale production of the different varieties of the energy crop, analyzing the chemical and structural characteristics of the varieties, evaluating pre-processing techniques at Genera’s Biomass Innovation Park in Vonore, and measuring the ethanol yield of the various varieties through the demonstration-scale biorefinery.

The UTBI projects that Tennessee farmers could sustainably produce enough switchgrass by 2025 to produce more than a billion gallons of ethanol annually on some 1 million acres without displacing the production of food and fiber crops.

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Category: Research

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