Kudzu Biofuel Potential
Posted on June 23, 2008 Comments (2)
“Kudzu is just a large amount of carbohydrate sitting below ground waiting for anyone to come along and dig it up,” Sage said. “The question is, is it worthwhile to dig it up?”
The roots were by far the largest source of carbohydrate in the plant: up to 68 percent carbohydrate by dry weight, compared to a few percent in leaves and vines.
The researchers estimate that kudzu could produce 2.2 to 5.3 tons of carbohydrate per acre in much of the South, or about 270 gallons per acre of ethanol, which is comparable to the yield for corn of 210 to 320 gallons per acre. They recently published their findings in Biomass and Bioenergy.
Crucial to making the plan work would be figuring out whether kudzu could be economically harvested, especially the roots, which can be thick and grow more than six feet deep. To balance this expense, Sage said, the plant requires zero planting, fertilizer or irrigation costs.