A Field of Promise
Data gathered during independent evaluations of Viaspace Inc.’s Giant King Grass demonstrate the crop has essentially the same properties as corn stover and wheat straw. According to Viaspace, the third-party testing included evaluations of the crop’s sugar and lignin content, several levels of pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis to sugars.
“These initial results show that a ton of Giant King Grass can yield as much bioethanol as a ton of corn stover,” says Viaspace Chief Executive Carl Kukkonen. “This validates Giant King Grass, a nonfood, dedicated energy crop, as a competitive feedstock for producing cellulosic biofuels.”
Perhaps most importantly, Kukkonen notes that the per acre yields of Giant King Grass are up to 10 times higher than those of corn stover. “With our high yield, we believe that Giant King Grass can reduce biofuel feedstock costs by up to 40 percent, even when compared to projected prices for corn straw as agricultural waste,” Kukkonen continues.
While Giant King Grass has obvious yield benefits, Viaspace notes that the crop also has other positive attributes. While it cannot be grown in colder climates, like corn and wheat can, the perennial grass can be harvested several times per year while leaving the soil ecosystem relatively intact, providing advantages regarding soil erosion, carbon sequestration and potential nitrogen fixation from the atmosphere.