Duckweed for Biofuels?

Duckweed may be a viable material for biofuel production according to a new report in ACS’ journal Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research. Duckweed is a fast growing floating plant that turns ponds and lakes green.

DuckweedChristodoulos A. Floudas, a professor at Princeton and Xin Xiao with Langfang Engineering and Technology Centre, Institute of Process Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, along with several colleagues explain that duckweed, an aquatic plant that floats on or near the surface of still or slow-moving freshwater, is ideal as a raw material for biofuel production. It grows fast, thrives in wastewater that has no other use, does not impact the food supply and can be harvested more easily than algae and other aquatic plants. However, they say, few studies have been done on the use of duckweed as a raw material for biofuel production.

In the article, Floudas and Xiao describe four scenarios for duckweed refineries that use proven existing technology to produce gasoline, diesel and kerosene. Those technologies include conversion of biomass to a gas; conversion of the gas to methanol, or wood alcohol; and conversion of methanol to gasoline and other fuels. The results show that small-scale duckweed refineries could produce cost-competitive fuel when the price of oil reaches $100 per barrel. Oil would have to cost only about $72 per barrel for larger duckweed refiners to be cost-competitive.

The research was partially funded from grants from the National Science Foundation and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

4 thoughts on “Duckweed for Biofuels?

  1. Joanna, thanks for the post on this. Duckweed is indeed a promising biomass for bioenergy, as well as animal feedstock, bioplastics and a host of other applications due to its high quality protein content when grown in nutrient-rich water systems. Join us on our LinkedIn Group: International Lemna Association. and website http://www.InternationalLemnaAssociation to learn more about this simple solution to our most vexing feed, fuel, and water issues.

  2. A good idea,. but a far better idea would be the Noxiouse water weed “Water Hyacinth” it has the capacity to double itself every twelve days, and it also has the added use of turning dirty poluted water into good clean water,. lakes in Africa have been overgrown with the plant, it could be used as a bio gas or as the same use as the Duckweed, the Water Hyacinth has far more volume though.

  3. To the technologies mentioned in the article – the researches ought to consider one that converts biomass directly into liquid fuel oil using our US & EU patented technology of Thermal Extraction followed by low – temperature Pyrolysis with recirculation of product Hydrogen to convert practically all the energy stored in the biomass to bio-oil.