The need for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, exhaustion of fossil fuel resources and the desire for energy independence have encouraged worldwide interest infuels and chemicals derived from renewable resources, especially those that do not compete with food crops.
Forestry and poultry, the top two income-producing agricultural commodities in Louisiana generate significant quantities of waste that can be used for producing energy pellets or other value-added products such as soil amendments.
The sugars found in molasses are ideal feedstocks for fermentation to a wide variety of products. The bacterium known as Clostridium beijerinckii optinoii can produce butanol and isopropanol from these sugars.
There is an opportunity to extract fermentable sugars from energycane and use the fiber byproduct, or bagasse, as lignocellulosic biomass for release of additional fermentable sugars or for conversion into electricity.
Louisiana has long been recognized for oil and gas production.From the first producing oil well in Jennings in 1901 and the first natural gas pipeline near Shreveport in 1908, our state has matured into a globally recognized hub for recovery, processing and transportation of fossil-based fuels, chemicals and specialty products.
Political, environmental and economic concerns have motivated nations to become increasingly interested in renewable sources of energy and bioproducts, such as those obtained from plant biomass.
Lignocellulosic biomass – which includes agricultural residues such as corn stover and sugarcane bagasse, herbaceous crops such as switchgrass, and both hard and soft woods – is an important source of fermentable sugars and other valuable components.
Crop biomass can be co-fired with coal to produce energy.Co-firing has the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fueled plants. Research has demonstrated that when co-firing is conducted with relatively low ratios of biomass to coal, there are significant reductions in both solid waste generation and emissions.
Much of the focus of biofuel research involves investigating the types of crops that can be grown as feedstock material for the production of advanced cellulosic biofuels.
Butanol as a biofuel has many advantages over ethanol as a fuel, including higher energy content, usability in existing pipelines and ease of blending with gasoline.
Biofuel production is an extensive process that involves developing a biological feedstock, processing and treating the feedstock, and producing and refining fuels and chemicals from the feedstock.
In 2011, the LSU AgCenter embarked upon a five-year initiative, funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to develop crops that can be used for biofuel production across the southern United States, thus offering an opportunity to improve local farm incomes.
LSU AgCenter and Texas A&M AgriLife scientists are working together to build a pest management program that will mitigate insect pest and disease damage to bioenergy crops in interaction with conventional crops along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Sweet sorghum is considered a potential crop for biofuel production in much of the tropical and temperate regions of the world. LSU AgCenter researchers are investigating sweet sorghum, along with energycane, as potential feedstock for biorefining.