Kudzu Biofuel Potential

Posted on June 23, 2008  Comments (2)

Kudzu Gets Kudos as a Potential Biofuel

The kudzu vine, also known as “the plant that ate the South,” was brought from eastern Asia in 1876 and can grow more than 6.5 feet a week. Its starchy roots plunge deep into the soil, and just a fragment of the plant remaining in the ground is enough to allow it to come back next season.

“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.

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2 Responses to “Kudzu Biofuel Potential”

  1. Anonymous
    August 25th, 2008 @ 2:27 pm

    Where I live we have to fight kudzu all the time as it seems to grow overnight. Why we don’t use kudzu is beyond me. Especially as you don’t have to plant, fertilize or irrigate. This is a cash cow just waiting for us to use so what is stopping us. This is way past time for us to become non-dependent on other countries for our fuel. We do not need to become hostages over oil.

  2. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Invasive Species: Camels
    July 12th, 2009 @ 3:10 pm

    […] articles on invasive plants – Kudzu Biofuel Potential – Invasive Plants: Tamarisk – posts on invasive species by curiouscat   Tags: Life […]

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