The two companies have signed a four-year agreement to test Mendel’s PowerCane™ Miscanthus and evaluate its performance as feedstock for biofuel production at BP Biofuels’ demonstration plant at Jennings, Louisiana. A total of 100 acres of PowerCane™ Miscanthus will be planted in early 2012 near BP’s Jennings facility and the first biomass harvest from these fields is expected in 2013.
“PowerCane™ Miscanthus varieties are the first miscanthus products specifically developed for biomass production that can be planted as a seed,” said Mendel Bioenergy Seeds president Don Panter. “The PowerCane™ Miscanthus system will be significantly more economical and efficient for growers, and will allow the industry to scale up more quickly to meet renewable energy goals.”
According to the company, PowerCane™ Miscanthus represents a new chapter in biomass production. While the current publicly available miscanthus varieties have outstanding agronomic and biomass performance characteristics, they must be planted as a rhizome or live plug, which requires additional investment and equipment for growers.
BP Biofuels currently operates a biofuels demonstration facility in Jennings, La that is used to test new cellulosic technologies in the biofuels production process. BP is also constructing a 20,000 acre energy grass farm in Florida that will supply a 36 million gallon a year conversion facility. Construction on the facility is expected to begin later this year.