Miscanthus giganteus in Croatia

Today, the global industry is increasingly turning to renewable energy, and one such source is biomass. Biomass encompasses a wide range of raw materials for energy production, and one of the more significant crops for biomass production is Miscanthus giganteus. Due to its simple cultivation, high annual yield and low requirements and high energy properties, Miscanthus represents an energy culture of great potential. 

Energy crops are those crops that have been grown solely for the purpose of producing biomass. The goal of growing these crops is to produce as much biomass per unit area as possible with a view to its further conversion into energy (link). Most of the area under Miscanthus is in England, where Miscanthus covers 60,000 ha, in Germany 40,000 ha, France 20,000 ha and in Austria 6,000 ha.

One hectare of land is planted with 10 thousand seedlings, one seedling per m2, to give the plant enough space for undisturbed growth and development. The plant grows in a dense section up to one meter wide and reaches a height of up to 4 m after the third year of cultivation (link).

Miscanthus giganteus is characterized by years of growth, high biomass production (15 - 20 t / ha from the third year of cultivation), and the possibility of harvesting dry biomass (moisture <16%). This culture is extremely resistant to diseases and pests (pesticide treatment is not carried out) and makes rational use of nutrients, especially nitrogen from the soil. Since it is a sterile species, there is no possibility of uncontrolled spread (link).

Miscanthus giganteus is currently most used for burning coal and / or standalone direct combustion for the production of heat and / or electricity. Using various compaction technologies, the produced biomass is refined into solid biofuels and can be effectively used to produce green energy after the briquetting / pelleting process. The energy exploitation of this culture enables significant conservation of fossil energy sources. The energy value of 20 tons of Miscanthus biomass is equal to the energy value of 12 tons of coal, while 30 tons of said biomass is equivalent to 12000 liters of fuel oil (Lewandowski et al., 1997.; El Bassam et al., 1996) (link).

Compared to corn yielding 19 tons of biomass and 1890 gallons of ethanol fuel, Miscanthus produces 40 tons of biomass and 8125 gallons of ethanol. It is superior to rapeseed, the most widely used vegetable in Europe. In rapeseed, the ratio between the energy invested in cultivation and the energy obtained is 1: 2, and in Miscanthus a fantastic 1:15  (link).

Miscanthus giganteus can also be used for the production of paper, building materials, mulch, plastics, and as a rug in livestock, but also in improving soil structure, reducing erosion and phyto-accumulation processes. Miscanthus fibers can still be used for the production of geotextiles, sticks for ornamental plants, in the auto industry, for the production of plastics. (link)


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