American plant Kudzu is a potential source for obtaining biofuel

June 17th, 2008 - 3:56 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, June 17 (ANI): Scientists have determined that Kudzu, which is one of the most invasive plants of America, is a potential source for obtaining biofuel.

According to a report in Discovery News, 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, said Rowan Sage of the University of Toronto and colleagues at the US Department of Agriculture.
Sages team gathered samples of kudzu from different locations in the south at different times of year and measured the amount of carbohydrate, which can be converted into ethanol by yeast present in leaves, vines and roots.

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 estimated 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.

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.

According to Sage, to balance this expense, the plant requires zero planting, fertilizer or irrigation costs.

The team estimated that about one-third of kudzu plants would be harvestable. If so, they calculate that kudzu could offer about 8 percent of the 2006 US bioethanol supply.

Its not going to solve anybodys energy crisis, but it would be a useful supplement, said Sage. (ANI)

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