Perennial crops need far less energy to plant, require less fertilizer and pesticides, and show a lower negative environmental impact compared with annual crops like for example corn. This makes the cultivation of perennial crops as energy crops more sustainable than the use of annual crops. The conversion into biogas in anaerobic digestion plants shows however much lower specific methane yields for the raw perennial crops like miscanthus and willow due to their lignocellulosic structure. Without pretreatment the net energy gain is therefore lower for the perennials than for corn. When applying wet oxidation to the perennial crops, however, the specific methane yield increases significantly and the ratio of energy output to input and of costs to benefit for the whole chain of biomass supply and conversion into biogas becomes higher than for corn. This will make the use of perennial crops as energy crops competitive to the use of corn and this combination will make the production of biogas from energy crops more sustainable.
Energy balance and cost-benefit analysis of biogas production from perennial energy crops pretreated by wet oxidation
H. Uellendahl, G. Wang, H. B. Møller, U. Jørgensen, I. V. Skiadas, H. N. Gavala, B. K. Ahring; Energy balance and cost-benefit analysis of biogas production from perennial energy crops pretreated by wet oxidation. Water Sci Technol 1 November 2008; 58 (9): 1841–1847. doi: https://doi.org/10.2166/wst.2008.504
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