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Kudzu as potential eco-fuel?

July 6, 2008 in Driving, LA

vinelasher_kudzu.jpgSomeone call Lovecraft Biofuels* & tell ‘em to start hackin’ down all the kudzu in the hills behind ‘em: according to some experts, kudzu–”The Plant that Ate the South (and Parts of Echo Park and Silver Lake)” has a high yield of carbohydrates that can be converted into ethanol. In fact, the yield per acre would be comparable to that of corn.

According to The Discovery Channel, “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 U.S. bioethanol supply.” Dr. Rowan Sage, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto, says “[The refinement process] will probably be simple, but it has not been worked out,” Sage said. “Kudzu roots are like large sweet potatoes. Simply wash, grind it up, and treat with enyzmes to break down the starch and sugars to glucose, and ferment with yeast or bacteria and then distill. The kudzu stems could be burned for distillation.” Harvesting could be difficult, though, as roots sometimes hide beneath as many as six feet of soil. More info is here, here & here.

*Now, this would make ethanol, not biodiesel, but it’s still of interest as an alternative fuel.