The native prairie and wetland plants in the U.S. have been recently test burned following three years of planning. This test assesses their potential for power production.
This initiative focuses on native plant biomass as a substitute energy source, in addition to estimating cost factors required for completing business models.
The demonstration was performed by a unique collaboration between Applied Ecological Services (AES), the Earth Partners, and POET, the United States’ major ethanol producer. The processing and test-burn of the native plants were performed in a solid fuel boiler by the research partners at POET’s Chancellor, South Dakota ethanol plant. The energy obtained from this ‘conservation biomass’ was employed to produce energy for ethanol production process in this facility.
According to The Earth Partners’ Business Development Manager, Chas Taylor, the initial results show the possibility of burning the conservation biomass in increased volumes within solid fuel boilers like POET’s facility in Chancellor.
Taylor Creek Restoration Nurseries, the in-house native plant nursery of AES, cultivated and harvested the plants, and also baled and supplied the plant materials for the series of tests from their Wisconsin site. The conservation value of the demonstration was validated by the Nursery manager Corrine Daniels and scientists from AES.
For several years, conservation entities and government programs have been growing native grasses, some of which have been studied for their bioenergy potential. The Earth Partners have selected the coastal grasslands on the Gulf Coast and the floodplains of the Midwest for biomass production.
The native plant species opted for conservation biomass are ideal for re-building soil organic matter, thereby bringing down the atmospheric levels of CO2. These native species provide landlords on the marginal and under-utilized lands with exceptional cultural, environmental, and economic advantages.