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Title: Development of High Yield Feedstocks and Biomass Conversion Technology for Renewable Energy

This project had two main goals. The first goal was to evaluate several high yielding tropical perennial grasses as feedstock for biofuel production, and to characterize the feedstock for compatible biofuel production systems. The second goal was to assess the integration of renewable energy systems for Hawaii. The project focused on high-yield grasses (napiergrass, energycane, sweet sorghum, and sugarcane). Field plots were established to evaluate the effects of elevation (30, 300 and 900 meters above sea level) and irrigation (50%, 75% and 100% of sugarcane plantation practice) on energy crop yields and input. The test plots were extensive monitored including: hydrologic studies to measure crop water use and losses through seepage and evapotranspiration; changes in soil carbon stock; greenhouse gas flux (CO2, CH4, and N2O) from the soil surface; and root morphology, biomass, and turnover. Results showed significant effects of environment on crop yields. In general, crop yields decrease as the elevation increased, being more pronounced for sweet sorghum and energycane than napiergrass. Also energy crop yields were higher with increased irrigation levels, being most pronounced with energycane and less so with sweet sorghum. Daylight length greatly affected sweet sorghum growth and yields. One of the energy crops (napiergrass) wasmore » harvested at different ages (2, 4, 6, and 8 months) to assess the changes in feedstock characteristics with age and potential to generate co-products. Although there was greater potential for co-products from younger feedstock, the increased production was not sufficient to offset the additional cost of harvesting multiple times per year. The feedstocks were also characterized to assess their compatibility with biochemical and thermochemical conversion processes. The project objectives are being continued through additional support from the Office of Naval Research, and the Biomass Research and Development Initiative. Renewable energy assessments included: biomass feedstocks currently being produced by Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., and possibilities of producing methane from agricultural and livestock wastes and the potential of photovoltaic systems for irrigation pumping at HC&S. Finally, the impact of a micro-hydroelectric system on a small-farm economics and the local community was assessed.« less
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  1. Univ. of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI (United States)
  2. Hamakua Springs County Farms, Hilo, HI (United States)
  3. Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company, Puunene, HI (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Bioenergy Technologies Office (EE-3B)
Contributing Orgs:
Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company, Puunene, HI (United States); Hamakua Springs County Farms, Hilo, HI (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States