Miscanthus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The activities leading to these results have received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement nr.  289159.

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Often reported applications of miscanthus biomass refer to bioenergy (combustion for heat and electricity or gasification), building material (Light concrete, wall covering, loam walls, insulation, roofing, wind-protection covering), car parts (steering wheels, oil binder), industrial use (packaging material, paper, fibre for injection moulding), horticulture (pots, culture substrates, mulch and bedding for strawberries), animal husbandry (horse bedding).

Probably the largest application of miscanthus reported from China is the use of 400,000 ha of the species Miscanthus lutariariparia around the coastal area of Dongting Lake, one of the largest lakes within the Long River water system. The biomass is presently used by the paper industry to produce low-to medium quality printimg paper.

In Europe there are presently an estimated 30,000 ha of miscanthus plantations established.

The largest application of miscanthus in Europe is currently the co-firing of Miscanthus x giganteus biomass with coal. In the UK, this was stimulated by establishment grants to farmers and fiscal incentives to power companies and has resulted in approximately 20,000 ha of M. x giganteus being grown. The Drax coal power station, which provides about 7% of electrical power in the UK, has created a huge market for biomass for co-combustion. UK farming cannot fulfil it demand for biomass. Blankney Estates, a partner in this programme, have several years' experience selling biomass to Drax. The power station has announced that it is planning three dedicated biomass boilers (290MW) and its preferred fuel format is pellets.

 

The second largest areas of miscanthus production in Europe are found in Austria, Switzerland and Germany, where most of the biomass is used for thermal applications (e.g. heating of buildings) at smaller scales.

 

One promising niche application for the biomass of Miscanthus sinensis genotypes is the thatching of houses, as is already practised in Denmark. At present about 35 ha of Miscanthus sinensis are grown for thatching in Denmark. Observations on roofs thatched with Miscanthus 8 years ago show that these are in a better state than roofs made from reed, and it has been concluded that miscanthus biomass is more resistant against rotting than reed biomass. A potential market for 120,000 ha in Denmark and similarly sized markets are expected in countries where thatching is traditional, such as Germany and the Netherlands.


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