Study weighs up candidates for contaminated land biofuels crop
23 February 2010, source edie newsroom
Dr Richard Lord (left) with BioReGen project officer Richard Green
The idea of using brownfield and polluted sites for biofuels is not new - indeed, parts of eastern Europe still contaminated by the fallout from the Chernobyl disaster have been flagged up as the perfect location for mass cultivation of fuel crops.
But knowing which crops are likely to provide the most energy from the worst conditions has been up for debate.
A five-year study in Teesside suggests that reed canary grass is the ideal candidate for sites in the UK, and can easily be turned into bricks or pellets for burning in biomass power station or small-scale boilers.
The team experimented with four types of plant: current biomass favourite willow trees and three types of grass - miscanthus, reed canary and switch grasses.
Dr Richard Lord, reader in environmental geochemistry and sustainability, said: "We have narrowed the plants down to reed canary grass because it grows well on poor soils and contaminated industrial sites.
"That is significant because in areas like Teesside, and many similar ones around the country, there are a lot of marginal or brownfield sites on which reed canary grass can be grown.
"Selecting such sites means that the grass can be grown without taking away land which would otherwise be used in food production, a key concern for those involved in the biomass and biofuel sectors."
The grass takes two years to reach maturity.
Dr Lord added: "The test burnings have shown that reed canary grass produces a good, clean fuel without picking up contamination from the soil.
"Reed canary grass has great potential because it offers a suitable use for unsightly brownfield sites while producing an excellent fuel at a time when the world is crying out for new ways of producing green energy.
"Our research also suggests that the end product is improved soil quality and biodiversity at the greened-up sites. We are now examining ways in which we can commercialise this idea and are already talking to a number of major biomass power station operators."
This story is tagged with:
I don't understand why they wouldn't deconaminate the land with phytoremediation and/or bioremediation first and then grow the reed canary grass if still needed. Isn't the purpose to 'fix' the problem instead of allowing it to continue and use it for another purpose? With their scenario, is there any chance of human or animal contamination since the region will 'appear' clean?
You need to be logged in to make a comment. Don't have an account? Set one up right now in seconds!
© Faversham House Group Ltd 2010. edie news articles may be copied or forwarded for individual use only. No other reproduction or distribution is permitted without prior written consent.
Products & Services
We operates a large fleet of mobile and semi-mobile dewatering and thickening decanter centrifuge, filter press and belt press units with throughputs of between 5m3 and 120m3/hr. The range enables the company's experienced operators to successfully process the most difficult of materials and liquid ... read more
In line with the objectives of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD), a national 6.2million project is under way in the UK to identify sustainable agricultural practices that would limit or reduce detrimental effects on groundwater and river water quality while maintaining food production and... read more
AMEC is a leader in the provision of innovative and cost effective site characterisation and remediation services. Our client base includes holders of some of the most contaminated portfolios in the UK, within both the private and public sectors. We provide clients with certainty in their required... read more