GCB Bioenergy

Cover image for Vol. 7 Issue 3

Edited By: Steve Long

Impact Factor: 4.248

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2013: 2/79 (Agronomy); 12/83 (Energy & Fuels)

Online ISSN: 1757-1707

Associated Title(s): Global Change Biology

Common reeds as a sustainable energy source


Common reeds as a sustainable energy sourcePerennial grasses such as switchgrass and Miscanthus are emerging as promising bioenergy feedstocks. Aquatic perennial grasses may also play a role as a bioenergy feedstock. In addition, they have phytoremediation potential; they can reduce or eliminate contaminants in water. Not all feedstocks are appropriate for bioenergy production. Some key energy-related characteristics of lignocellulosic feedstock include heating value, elemental composition, metals content and ash content. The heating value is the energy released per unit mass. The ash content is the non-combustible portion of the biomass and thus represents reduced heating value and increased waste. Heavy metals typically remain in the ash and can have negative environmental impacts. Mimmo et al. characterized the pyrolysis potential of the aquatic perennial grass Common Reed. Pyrolysis is a process used to convert feedstocks to energy. During pyrolysis, biomass undergoes thermochemical decomposition at elevated temperatures in the absence of oxygen. The authors considered reeds from two origins (China and Italy) and analyzed leaves and stems separately. Samples underwent thermal analysis to determine its heating value and minimum temperature of degradation. Pyrolysis was also performed using a bench-scale system. This data was then used to calibrate their kinetic model. While Common Reed was found to be a suitable feedstock, the authors identified some potential problems. Ash content was high and the samples from China had high chlorine and sulphur content, which could cause emission and corrosion problems. The levels of some heavy metals were also high; this was likely due to reed’s phytoremediation potential. Because the heavy metals are thought to accumulate mostly in the roots, it would be necessary to harvest the entire plant (and not just the leaves and stems) to prevent the metals from being re-released into the environment.

Patuzzi, F., Mimmo, T., Cesco, S., Gasparella, A. and Baratieri, M. (2012), Common reeds (Phragmites australis) as sustainable energy source: experimental and modelling analysis of torrefaction and pyrolysis processes. GCB Bioenergy. doi: 10.1111/gcbb.12000

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