Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Duckweed as future biofuel source

The global biomass industry is constantly searching for new cheaper and more sustainable biomass sources. One of the possible candidates is also said to be duckweed, the fast-growing floating plant that gives ponds and lakes green color.

The researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences claim that duckweed is almost ideal as a raw material for biofuel production. The main advantages of using duckweed as new source for biofuel production are:
 - fast time of growth
- it thrives in wastewater that has no other use,
- it does not impact the food supply like the first generation of biofuels
- can be harvested a lot easier than algae and other aquatic plants

Duckweed that gives lakes and ponds green color could become major source of future biofuel production.

Only a handful of studies on using the duckweed as a raw material for biofuel production have so far been done, and there is of course the need for further research on this matter.

This latest study done by Chinese scientists describes four different scenarios for duckweed refineries, all of which using existing technologies to produce gasoline, diesel and kerosene. The end results showed that small-scale duckweed refineries would be able to produce cost-competitive fuel when the price of oil reaches $100 per barrel and that oil would have to cost only about $72 per barrel for larger duckweed refiners to be cost-competitive.

There could certainly be lot more to duckweed than previously thought.