The state of Oklahoma is getting into the switchgrass business for cellulosic ethanol production.
The Oklahoma Bioenergy Center has secured land for more than 1,000 acres – the “world’s largest stand of switchgrass” – of production-scale demonstration fields. Planting will take place within the next 45 days.
The land is located near Guymon in the state’s panhandle. This switchgrass field will be the first of its size anywhere in the world focused on biomass production. Additional acreage of sorghum and switchgrass will be planted near Chickasha and Maysville in central Oklahoma.
A cellulosic biorefinery currently being constructed by Abengoa Bioenergy in Hugoton, Kan., will be less than 35 miles from Guymon, and the switchgrass fields in the panhandle will provide material to this biorefinery. The Abengoa Bioenergy facility is expected to be operational in 2010.
“The value of the Oklahoma Bioenergy Center to the cellulosic ethanol industry cannot be overstated,” said Gerson Santos-Leon, executive vice president, Abengoa Bioenergy New Technologies. “The early and aggressive establishment of 1,000 acres of switchgrass will provide researchers, scientists, agricultural producers and industry — not only in Oklahoma but across the nation — with important information that will help establish the emerging cellulosic ethanol industry.”