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Agave shows potential as biofuel feedstock


February 24, 2011

Agave has been identified as a potential new biofuel crop (Photo: Stan Shebs)

Agave has been identified as a potential new biofuel crop (Photo: Stan Shebs)

Agave is a very hardy, useful plant. It grows in hot, arid conditions, and has found use in the production of beverages, food, and fiber. Now, it looks like it could have yet one more use – a Mexican botanist believes it could be an excellent biofuel feedstock. Not only does it grow quickly, but global climate change shouldn't adversely affect it, and it doesn't compete with food crops.

Prof. E. Garcia-Moya and colleagues at the Colegio de Postgraduados en Ciencias Agricolas came to their conclusions after studying published research on agave. Its yields are similar to those of highly-productive biomass crops such as corn, and much higher than other desert plants. Also, it should continue to thrive as global temperatures climb and precipitation becomes more sporadic – something that cannot be said of most crops.

"Agave is a potential candidate as a bioenergy feedstock because it does not compete for land with the production of commodities and it is widely distributed in Mexico," said Garcia-Moya. "Waste remaining in the fields after harvest, and created during tequila and mescal production, can potentially provide thousands of tons of bioenergy feedstock per year for bioenergy production."

The research was recently published in Global Change Biology Bioenergy.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

\"Doesn\'t compete with foodstocks\" ...? I take it they have never used agave syrup or drunken any kind of tequila?

Brandon Lyon

Biofuel is indirectly destroying the environement. I\'m not agree with tis. It\'s better to have natural forest than theese forced plants with almost no own fauna.

Facebook User

The key is \"Waste remaining in the fields after harvest, and created during tequila and mescal production\". Not instead of Enjoy..


Ever since this \"Anthropogenic Global Warming/Climate Change\" came to prominence, with the spectre of deserts creeping ever northward, I\'ve been saying (somewhat tongue-in-cheekishly): \"Let\'s just learn how to grow Tequila\". This story\'s proof positive that, as a dear friend noted years ago, \"Great minds travel in the same rut\". Of course, \"Nothing happens in a vacuum\" so, hopefully, as the price of tequila goes up, the price of tacos will come down. \"Take that, Algore!\"

Myron J. Poltroonian

Yes. Agave is a versatile plant which has wild growth. The Fibre is used in rope making and in fabrics. In Philippines DIP DRY (Shirts) are manufactured. The beauty of these shirts is dust will go off when immersed in soap water and waving the shirt in air. Water won\'t stick to it. It has 10 percent fermentable sugars and local people make country liquor MASCAL in Mexico. In Brazil there is a paper factory with input from Agave. It can be used in biogas production. In Tanzania and Kenya its pieces are dried and mixed in concrete since it has strong fibres. A steroid HECOGENIN is made from the plant. There should be wider cultivation of this carefree plant for Biofuel production especially in developing countries

Anumakonda Jagadeesh
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