Energy crop company Ceres will begin test trials of improved switchgrass cultivars and high-biomass sorghum hybrids at the site of Range Fuels‘ commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant, now under construction in Georgia.
According to a news release, while wood residues will be the primary feedstock for the biorefinery, Range Fuels is also interested in better understanding the economic, environmental and logistical attributes of non-food, low-carbon grass species in the production of cellulosic biofuels.
“The goal is to determine the best crop management, storage and handling practices for Georgia, and just as important, the performance of herbaceous biomass in Range Fuels’ conversion process,” said Anna Rath, Ceres vice president of commercial development. She noted that grass species, including both annuals and perennials, can provide a flexible and reliable supply of raw materials for fuel and power. “This is an important step in demonstrating that energy crops can be successfully and sustainably grown in the area surrounding the Range Fuels Soperton Plant site,” she said.
Ceres recently announced that it will commercialize its first seed varieties under the trade name Blade Energy Crops. Rath said that the company will begin booking seed orders this fall for the 2009 growing season.