Submitted to: American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 27, 2009
Publication Date: June 18, 2009
Citation: Arriaga, F.J., Raper, R.L., Balkcom, K.S. 2009. Biomass production for bioenergy: a Southeastern perspective [bstract]. American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers Annual International Meeting, June 21-24, 2009, Reno, Nevada. CDROM. Technical Abstract: Fuel self-sufficiency presents a national security problem for the U.S. We import approximately 60% of all the transportation fuel we consume each year from the Middle East. Additionally, the Global rate of oil discovery has decreased significantly in the past three decades, while our consumption rate continues to increase. Further, the energy return on investment keeps getting smaller, meaning that it is taking more energy to extract energy from oil sources. Corn grain ethanol has been suggested to offset some of these issues, however, it would require more cropland than available in the entire U.S. to grown corn for ethanol. Ethanol and other fuels from cellulose present an opportunity to meet energy demands. Additionally, there are multiple cellulose sources that can potentially be used, such as trees and perennial grasses. The southeastern U.S. is well positioned to be a key player in cellulose production due to the significant amounts of rainfall and moderate winter temperatures. Dedicated perennial energy crops, such as switchgrass and miscanthus, grow well in the region. Also, annual energy crops can be integrated with crop rotation systems typical to the Southeast, including the use of winter cover crops that protect the soil during the winter months, but can be harvested in the spring for bioenergy. All these factors, including its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, gives the southern U.S. a logistical advantage for cellulose based energy production. However, we must maintain long-term sustainability and environmental quality in mind.