Friday, January 27, 2006

News Conference: BIOHEAT - A "Made-in-Canada" Solution to Reducing Greenhouse Gases

BIOHEAT to Produce Equivalent of 2.5 Million Barrels of Oil per Day

Implications for Environmental Promises of new Conservative Government


January 27, 2006

GUELPH – BIOHEAT, or heat from densified energy grasses and agricultural residues, could produce the equivalent of 2.5 million barrels of oil per day by 2020 in North America, according to Roger Samson, Executive Director of REAP-Canada. “Gas and heating oil prices have skyrocketed, making renewable fuels like BIOHEAT essential for our environment and consumers.”

A ground-breaking scientific study published this past month in the international journal Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences found the farm is emerging as a possible solution to the global energy and greenhouse gases crises. “BIOHEAT offers the best energy and greenhouse gas balances of the available options and is the most efficient way to produce energy from farmland,” says David Pimentel, a keynote speaker at the Guelph Organic Agriculture Conference being held this weekend.

Renewable energy was an issue in the Federal Election, with Prime Minister-designate Stephen Harper calling for “made-in-Canada” solutions to reducing greenhouse gases, promising he would: “Require 5 percent average renewable content in Canadian gasoline and diesel fuel, such as ethanol and biodiesel, by 2010.”[1] However, BIOHEAT may provide an even a bigger greenhouse gas reduction at less cost than developing liquid biofuels.

REAP-Canada has found North America could develop a fuel supply of 300 million tonnes of densified agri-fuels by 2020, the energy equivalent of 2.5 million barrels of oil every day. Currently BIOHEAT is 25-50% cheaper than heating with oil or natural gas. Samson emphasized that “Canada is uniquely positioned to invest in BIOHEAT today.” The new BIOHEAT industry is already developing with Ontario farmer Don Nott to produce and sell the equivalent to 180,000 barrels of heating oil as densified agri-fibre fuels to the Ontario greenhouse industry in 2006.

NEWS CONFERENCE TO BE HELD: Saturday, 28 January 2006 at 2:30 PM
Mezzanine, University Centre, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, ON, with:

- Dr. David Pimentel - College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

- Roger Samson - REAP-Canada, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, QC

- Dr. Neal Stoskopf – Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON

- Don Nott - Farmer, Clinton, ON

For more information contact:
Roger Samson
Executive Director, REAP-Canada
Phone: (514) 398-7743 ext. 01

- Backgrounder: BIOHEAT Study Abstract -

“The Potential of C4 Perennial Grasses for Developing a Global BIOHEAT Industry”

By Roger Samson A1, Sudhagar Mani A2, Robert Boddey A3, Shahab Sokhansanj A2, Diego Quesada A4, Segundo Urquiaga A3, Veronica Reis A3, Claudia Ho Lem A1

Unprecedented opportunities for biofuel development are occurring as a result of rising fossil fuel prices, the need to reduce greenhouse gases, and growing energy security concerns. An estimated 250 million hectares (ha) of farmland could be utilized globally to develop a bioenergy industry if efficient and economical perennial biomass crops and bioenergy conversion systems are employed. In temperate zones, C4 or warm-season grass research and development efforts have found switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and Miscanthus capable of producing biomass yields of 10 to 20 oven dried tonnes (ODT)/ha/yr, while in tropical areas Erianthus and napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) are producing 25 to 35 ODT/ha/yr. The potential to annually produce 100 barrels of oil energy equivalent/ha with a 25:1 energy output to input ratio appears achievable with high-yielding, N-fixing warm-season grasses grown on marginal lands in the tropics. Commercialization of densified herbaceous plant species has been slow because of the relatively high alkali and chlorine contents of the feedstocks, which leads to clinker formation and the fouling of boilers. This challenge can be overcome by improving biomass quality through advances in plant breeding and cultural management to reduce the chlorine, alkali, and silica content and through the use of new combustion technologies.

Warm-season grasses can be readily densified provided suitable grinding and densification equipment and pressure are utilized. The major advantages of producing densified warm-season grasses for BIOHEAT include: it is the most efficient strategy to use marginal farmlands in most temperate and tropical climates to collect solar radiation; it has an excellent energy balance; the feedstocks can be used conveniently in a variety of energy applications; and it is relatively environmentally friendly. Densified warm-season grass biofuels are poised to become a major global fuel source because they can meet some heating requirements at less cost than all other alternatives available today.

Published in:

Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences Publisher: Taylor & Francis Issue: Volume 24, Number 5-6 / September-December 2005 Pages: 461 - 495,7,7;journal,2,72;linkingpublicationresults,1:103858,1

A1 Resource Efficient Agricultural Production-Canada, Ste Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada
A2 Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
A3 Embrapa Agrobiologia, Seropédica, RJ, Brazil
A4 Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Department of Soils, Seropédica, RJ, Brazil

[1] Conservative Party of Canada Federal Election Platform 2006, pg. 37, available online: .


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