Perennial grasses as lignocellulosic feedstock for second-generation bioethanol production in Mediterranean environment

  • Danilo Scordia | dscordia@unict.it Dipartimento di Scienze delle Produzioni Agrarie e Alimentari, Università di Catania, Italy.
  • Giorgio Testa Dipartimento di Scienze delle Produzioni Agrarie e Alimentari, Università di Catania, Italy.
  • Salvatore L. Cosentino Dipartimento di Scienze delle Produzioni Agrarie e Alimentari, Università di Catania, Italy.

Abstract

In this paper the suitability of three perennial, herbaceous, lignocellulosic grasses (Arundo donax, Saccharum spontaneous spp. aegyptiacum and Miscanthus x giganteus) for the production of second-generation bioethanol in semi-arid Mediterranean environment was studied. Crops were established in spring 2002, supplying irrigation and nitrogen fertilization up to 2004/2005 growing season. Subsequently, crops were grown without any agronomic input and harvested annually. Data reported in this paper refers to 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 growing seasons. Aboveground dry matter (DM) yield was higher in Arundo (35.4±2.1 Mg ha–1 in 2009 and 32.2±1.9 Mg ha–1 in 2010 harvest) than in Saccharum (27.3±2.0 and 23.9±1.9 Mg ha–1, respectively) and Miscanthus (19.6±2.8 and 17.2±1.6 Mg ha–1, respectively). Structural polysaccharides of the raw material were higher in Miscanthus (63.4% w/w) followed by Saccharum (61.5% w/w) and Arundo (57.6% w/w). The same trend was identified for the cellulose content (41.0%, 36.8% and 34.6%, respectively). The highest values in the total hemicellulose complex were observed in Saccharum (24.7%), followed by Arundo (23.1%) and Miscanthus (22.4%). The composition of structural polysaccharides leads to a higher theoretical ethanol yield (TEY) from one dry ton of Miscanthus feedstock (kg DM Mg–1), followed by Saccharum and Arundo. On the other hand, the TEY per unit surface (Mg ha–1) was greater in Arundo than in Saccharum and Miscanthus. When compared to other lignocellulosic sources used in the second-generation bioethanol technology, such as agricultural residues, woody species and other herbaceous perennial crops, Arundo, Saccharum and Miscanthus showed a great potential in terms of TEY ha–1. Given the high levels of biomass yield and composition of structural polysaccharides, the three species might be introduced into the Mediterranean cropping systems to supply lignocellulosic biomass for second-generation industrial plants or bio-refineries.

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Published
2014-06-16
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Original Articles
Keywords:
Arundo, Miscanthus, Saccharum, lignocellulose, biomass yield, ethanol.
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How to Cite
Scordia, D., Testa, G., & Cosentino, S. L. (2014). Perennial grasses as lignocellulosic feedstock for second-generation bioethanol production in Mediterranean environment. Italian Journal of Agronomy, 9(2), 84-92. https://doi.org/10.4081/ija.2014.581