2009 Awards

Energy Canes: Ideal Fuelstocks for North Carolina’s Diverse Energy Needs - N.C. State University

Funding recipient:  North Carolina State University Mountain Horticulture Crops, Mills River

Award amount:  $162,438


Energy canes represent grasses in the “sugarcane complex” and include sugarcanes, miscanthus, and their hybrids.  The perennial, cold-hardy species in this complex have considerable potential as biomass crops in North Carolina.  Research at NC State University has been multi-directional, utilizing expertise from 3 different departments to assess regional adaptability and production of energy canes in North Carolina, to develop improved energy canes suitable for North Carolina, and to refine ethanol bioprocessing for energy canes.  Field trials are being conducted at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station (MHCRS), Mills River and NCDA Oxford Tobacco Research Station to evaluate regional adaptability, biomass yield, and fertilizer response of Miscanthus x giganteus, with initial results indicating that phosphorus is crucial for initial establishment and early growth.  In a second trial, the regional adaptability and biomass yield of seven different energy canes are being evaluated at Mills River and Wallace, N.C., providing side-by-side comparison of potential energy crops for North Carolina.  Conventional plant breeding techniques are being utilized to develop new cultivars with improved biomass yields, increased cold tolerance, and regional adaptability.  A wide range of new hybrids have been developed and will be evaluated as candidate bioenergy crops.  In addition, ethanol bioprocessing is being tailored specifically for energy canes.  Initial results provide a strong platform for future research and indicate promise for an energy cane biofuel industry in North Carolina.

Energy Cane Plots photo

Energy Cane Plots - NCSU Mountain Horticulture Research Station, Mills River, NC,
August 2009

Leveraged funds reported: $368,250
North Carolina counties benefiting from this project: Duplin, Granville, and Henderson

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