Arundo Donax Uses: 8 Ways to Utilise Giant Reed



Arundo Donax (also known as giant reed or giant cane) has a wide range of applications and innumerable advantages compared to other energy crops. This perennial plant grows in different kinds of environments and adapts well to a variety of soils and growing conditions.  You can plant it in marginal land and harvest every year for decades.

From biomass power generation, bioethanol, biogas, pellet, furniture production, soil erosion control to feeding livestock, cultivating and using Arundo Donax can only benefit you – and our planet. If you plant Arundo, you can be sure to harvest renewable energy and fight against climate change as well. Read further to find out more about Arundo Donax uses!


1. Arundo Donax Uses: Biomass Power Generation

Biomass can be used for both household and industrial needs as it can be converted into electricity and heat.

Arundo Donax is the leading energy crop in biomass production, with around 50-80 dry tonnes of biomass yield per hectare per year (depending on climate and agricultural technology), thus producing renewable energy. High yields of biomass are reported even from infertile or partly fertile soils as well. This productivity makes this revolutionary plant a notable candidate in low cost biomass production and in the fight against climate change.

These outstanding biomass yields make up for planting and watering costs, however it must also be pointed out that the costs invested are significantly lower than in the case of other energy crops. As for energy value, Arundo has an 18 MJ/kg energy value which is equal to wood, and its melting point (900-1000 celsius) is safe for all power plants.

Its ash content is 4-6 % – slightly higher than that of wood. However, ash can be reused as fertilizer to have a higher yield of biomass. Furthermore, Arundo Donax can stored in bales of 600-800 kg which reduces logistic costs.

Click here and find more reasons for choosing Arundo for biomass production!

2. Arundo Donax Uses: Biogas

Biogas is applied in direct combustion systems (such as boilers or turbines), internal combustion systems and it also has vehicular use. Using biogas in general has a cleaner impact on the environment, since biogas is a carbon neutral fuel.

Choosing Arundo Donax for biogas production is probably the best decision you can make. We will tell you why!

Due to the high biomass productivity per hectare of Arundo Donax, biogas and bio-methane gas production is 1.5 times higher compared to corn and 3 times more than triticale. Whilst you can use Arundo alone to source your biogas refinery, it is a complimentary ingredient for a mix with other organic waste in the anaerobic digester. Biogas yield from Arundo Donax is 413 m3/ton and electricity production per ton of Arundo is 275 kWh.

And the costs? The cost of production is 50% lower than that of the above-mentioned crops.

Need more convincing information? Read here!


3. Arundo Donax Uses: Bioethanol

Bioethanol is a renewable source of energy, which means it is an infinite supply of fuel. More importantly, bioethanol is made from biomass, so it does not damage the ozone layer as much as conventional petrol. So, what can Arundo Donax do for us?

The so-called lignocellulosic materials of Arundo allow for obtaining second-generation bioethanol. This type of bioethanol has positive energetic balance and no harm for the environment. What is more, studies justified that Arundo Donax produces 50% more ethanol than sugar cane or sugar beet, and 20% more than Miscanthus.

The potential process yield of Arundo donax is 265 kg of ethanol per dry metric ton of raw material. The numbers speak for themselves:

           4 tons of Arundo = 1 ton of cellulose ethanol

           1 tonne of Arundo = 330 liters of cellulose ethanol

Needless to say, using Arundo Donax is also more cost-efficient.

If you are interested in more facts on bioethanol gained from Arundo Donax, click here!

4. Arundo Donax Uses: Pellets and Briquettes

We all know there is a direct link between deforestation and the disappearance of wildlife, not to mention climate change. Good news is using alternative energy sources – such as Arundo Donax – instead of wood can save forests and endangered species.

In the form of pellets and briquettes, Arundo Donax can be used for heating up buildings, with its heating value being 18 MJ/kg (dry matter value), which is equal to that of wood. What is more, you don’t need to invest into new technologies since the plant is processed using similar methods to wood based pellets and briquettes.

Moreover, Arundo based pellets and briquettes can also be used as cat litter and horse stall bedding!

5. Arundo Donax Uses: Phytoremediation

Phytoremediation is a procedure that uses living plants to cleanse polluted soil and groundwater.

Planting Arundo Donax is a cost-effective approach of this type of soil restoration. Due to its high metabolism rate, it breaks down contamination faster than most plants. As a by-product, the use of this plant also reduces erosion.

What is more, thanks to the adaptive nature of Arundo Donax, you can make use of marginal and abandoned lands as well. An increase was reported several times in both organic matters and microbial biomass content in lands where Arundo was planted – a new opportunity for food cultivation!

How does phytoremediation work? Watch this video on how plants remove heavy metals from the soil!

6. Arundo Donax Uses: Furniture

We cannot stress enough the urging importance of lessening the usage of wood and utilising eco-friendly materials, such as Arundo Donax.

Apart from saving forests, another environmental benefit is that Arundo Donax requires 2/3 of the adhesive material compared to wood – imagine the money saved!

The technology used for compressing fibres of wood to make boards is very similar to what is used for alternatives. So, you don’t need to spend money on new technologies to prepare wood alternatives either.

Arundo Donax is already used on a small-scale for household items: they make brooms, baskets and even weave mats using the giant reed. However, we don’t have to wait for long now for something bigger. There are more and more furniture producing companies going green: IKEA is the leading firm, by aiming to be planet positive by 2030.

7. Arundo Donax Uses: Paper

Studies carried out in Australia, Spain and in the USA show that the long, flexible fibres of Arundo Donax make it an excellent candidate for paper production. In comparison to the commonly used Mischantus, Arundo has a higher biomass yield, more adaptable to a broader range of soils and better withstands drought and moisture stresses.

The cultivation of Arundo is predictable and programmable, thus it can satisfy the growing needs for wood-based composites. We should not forget that cutting out trees and even whole forests to have paper will not lead us to anywhere good.

If you need more persuasion of why you should switch to renewable energy, check out these facts here!

8. Arundo Donax Uses: Forage feedstock

Yes. Arundo Donax can be used even to feed livestock! We say forage feedstock to define crops, which are grown to be utilized by grazing.

Rich in fibre, crude protein content of about 11-21%, Arundo silage is as digestible as maize silage – just to name a few of its values.

Interestingly enough, the rhizome of Arundo Donax can be dried and ground into flour-like powder, which can be used to make bread – for human consumption! It is said to have a really bitter taste, though, so we only encourage you to have it eaten by farm animals.

Reference: Corno, G., Pilu R. & Adani, F. (2014). Arundo donax L.: A non-food crop for bioenergy and bio-compound production. Research Review Paper.

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