Arundo: High Biogas Yield at Lower Costs



Whilst the concept of creating biogas from decomposing organic matter has been around since the ancient Persians, it is with the increased fear from climate change that we have witnessed an upsurge of biogas plants. Whilst biogas is praised for being reliable, renewable and reducing landfill waste, it has its disadvantages. One of which is that it is not economically viable on a large scale. This means that without the high yields of biomass, producing biogas is expensive.

Why Arundo is a good choice for biogas

In a review of Arundo Donax (giant cane or giant reed) conducted by Corno (2014), it was established as an innovative and increasingly popular crop for energy production and green chemistry. Arundo is characterised as a perennial and herbaceous plant which occurs naturally all over the world in various climates and environments. It inherently sprouts favourably along rivers and other bodies of water, yet it can also be found in numerous ecosystems with low water availability. Nevertheless, for those who wish to plant Arundo, giant cane cultivation can also be established on a set of diverse quality soils – from arable to marginal land. Arundo is usually distinguishing from the competing energy crops due to the plant’s high biomass production per hectare.

You can find more information on Arundo’s biomass potential here. On the topic of marginal land, it is worth exploring our page on Arundo’s bioremediation capabilities to find out how you can improve polluted and degraded soil.


Arundo High biomass yield at low cost

Angelini (2009) estimates a mean biomass yield of 30–40 tonnes of dry matter from a study with the duration of 12 years. Yet it must be noted that the results were from an experiment where the biomass was produced with minimum agronomic input – meaning low or no use of irrigation, fertilizers, pesticides and low agronomic interventions with machinery. As a result, the cost of cultivation was very low whilst the environmental impacts were also kept at a minimum.

Due to its advantageous characteristics, Arundo has been increasingly prioritised as an energy crop for producing biogas – beginning in 2013 with a campaign in Italy on about 25 farms with full field plantations. Currently, most of the data regarding the output has been attained through tests for anaerobic biogas potential (ABP), concluded by utilising the batch approach. Whereas the results showed that the biogas output from a single strand of Arundo was lower than corn – due to the composition of the fibres, characterised by high cellulose and lignin content and to the absence of starch because the sterile cane plants produce no grains – however, the higher biomass yield per unit area of Arundo allowed the cane to produce much more biogas per cultivated unit area. As concluded by Corno (2014) and Ragaglini (2014) from the ABP analysis, the attainable methane yield can be more than 9000 N m3 CH4 Ha-1.9


Figure 1 – Energetic and economic evaluation of the anaerobic digestion of giant cane in comparison with corn

Economical Arundo high biogas output

It is therefore clear and visible that Arundo’s high biomass yield allows biogas plants to produce energy with a reasonable profit even on a larger scale. Arundo is a perennial plant in contrast to corn, making the cost of input and cultivation significantly lower. In addition, both the land and the actual output material is ethically acceptable – at the time of serious poverty and hunger, energy crops are often targeted for taking away space from arable crops, and in the case of corn, biogas plants could be criticised for using edible material to make energy.

For more information on why we recommend Arundo for biogas production, visit our page here. Moreover, if you want to explore the reason why we recommend our Arundo plantlets, you can read up on our technology or enquire at info@arundobioenergy.com.

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