USDA, Blue Biofuels collaborate to optimize king grass

By Blue Biofuels Inc. | January 07, 2022

Blue Biofuels Inc. and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service are collaborating on optimizing the yields of Pennisetum hybridum, commonly known as king grass, a perennial grass biomass crop, that the company is using as feedstock for its patented cellulose to sugar (CTS) process.

The USDA ARS and BIOF are cooperating to develop production methods which can be used to increase the productivity of land in Florida formerly used for orange production prior to the devastation of the industry by citrus greening. The growth of a perennial grass biomass crop can add additional profit opportunities for Florida and to other parts of the U.S. with climates suitable for tropical biomass production.

This agreement will study the ability to minimize inputs using nitrogen fixing cover crops, or other production practices, while maintaining or increasing biomass yields. The USDA ARS will gain knowledge which would then be published, and BIOF will optimize its production practices for biomass feedstocks. The knowledge gained from this agreement will be available to growers to allow them to efficiently supply the required biomass feedstock for production of sugars for cellulosic ethanol or further processed into renewable jet fuel.

Both the USDA ARS and BIOF will supply resources needed for the project. BIOF has a research farm near Arcadia, Florida, upon which king grass is growing, and facilities for conducting tests for productions trials; The USDA ARS will supply expertise and harvesting equipment to collect materials for storage, processing, and conversion by BIOF.

It is important to note the trials will be set up to allow for public presentations and publications. The work will be open access via scientific and popular press to allow both local and other producers to use the production practices developed to help supply feedstock to BIOF facilities and other bioenergy conversion facilities. This project allows BIOF and the USDA ARS to support missions to help producers develop integrated solutions that solve their problems related to productivity, profitability, energy efficiency, and natural resource stewardship.