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Author Topic: Plant Based Products for a Sustainable civilization  (Read 2629 times)

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AGelbert

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The Ugly Duckling: Can Duckweed Find Its Way to Bioenergy Commercialization?  

 Bruce Dorminey, Correspondent 
 June 23, 2014 

Greater Duckweed (Spirodela polyrhiza) — one of the smallest and simplest freshwater plants known — generally gets a bad rap. That’s because the millimeter-sized floating plant thrives on the worst sort of livestock and human wastewater, basically garden-variety sewage. In fact, in the South Pacific, New Zealand and Australia, it’s frequently used to clean such wastewater.

For years, researchers have been trying to commercialize duckweed as a viable source of bioenergy for the production of ethanol, biodiesel, natural gas and steam-generated electricity.

But even now, there’s little agreement on whether duckweed is best suited as a natural option for turning so-called municipal graywater into something clean enough to drink from the tap, or as a renewable biomass.  In pelletized form, it can also be used to feed tilapia, shrimp or poultry, and is even co-fired with coal.

Duckweed to bioenergy conversion may ultimately work best when done in tandem with some sort of ongoing wastewater cleanup.

The plant itself is composed of only a single kidney-shaped leaf, connected to the water on, which it floats by only a few thin underwater roots.  However, duckweed advocates point to the fact that, in warm climates, it can basically grow anywhere and at all altitudes.

A shallow big pond full of effluent from secondary treatment is just like liquid duckweed fertilizer, says Anne Marie Stomp, a retired North Carolina State University plant molecular biologist.

“You dump duckweed on top and every three days you take half of it away and the rest keeps growing,” says Stomp.

Multi-use Resource

Duckweed also has an advantage over algae biomass;/ it is large enough that it can be easily separated from water, it is very easy to air dry and, like hay, is also easy to store.  

It may soon become more prevalent in the U.S. if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) places more stringent requirements on wastewater discharge permits, and small towns could be forced to comply with tertiary wastewater treatment options.

“Small towns could be forced to put in $100 million chemical tertiary treatment plants which they can’t afford,” said Stomp.  “However, duckweed is fantastically good at tertiary wastewater treatment.”

Duckweed bio-engineering could also make it even more attractive as a bioenenergy feedstock.


A paper published earlier this year in the journal Nature Communications provides new and comprehensive details of the duckweed’s genome.

“If used for ethanol or electricity, any improvement in its BTU [output] would require that you improve the carbon allocation of the organism,” said Joachim Messing, Director of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Messing, the paper’s senior author, says that, it requires knowing the duckweed’s gene content. 

“We can bio-engineer the organism so that it has a better carbon output — in some form of carbon, either sugar, protein or oil — to potentially make kerosene, gasoline or diesel,” said Messing.

Commercial Applications

Duckweed, however, is already capable of doubling its population in as little as 48 hours, a fact that hasn’t eluded police officer Sam Licciardello, CEO of Biomass Alternative Power in Mantua Township, New Jersey. He  is heading up a group that is investing $40 to $60 million to use duckweed to generate both electricity and natural gas by late 2015

“I will be growing duckweed in a 15-acre, gutter-connected greenhouse site,” said Licciardello.  “It will accumulate steam from the gasifiers that will run two turbines which will create electricity and supply the grid with 12 MW.  While making steam, it will also create natural gas from the duckweed which will be stored, then tested processed and released in a metered [grid] system.”

But Stomp remains skeptical.

“No one wants to fund research to figure out a high-value product from duckweed because there is no mass source or cropping system for the plant,” said Stomp.  “So, nothing but futile attempts at commercialization get started, usually by people who are passionate but have limited business sense.”

Yet Licciardello couldn’t disagree more.  ;D

Biogas Potential


For his own operation, Licciardello explains that the duckweed will be automatically harvested from six separate greenhouse sections before being screened and dried in a process that removes 75 percent of its water.  From there, it will move into a patented convection system that will use a furnace-like closed loop process to heat and burn the duckweed to create both natural gas and steam.

Duckweed is dried down to 25 percent moisture before being put into three rows of 11 gasifiers that are fired up to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit.  The gasifiers will be automatically fed with duckweed.  The steam created from the process will travel back to the turbines.

Licciardello says a component inside the gasifiers actually separates the natural gas from the steam.  The natural gas component is then pumped into a holding tank before being fed into the natural gas grid.

Steam from the process will be fed into one of the two Siemens-built turbines at 12 MW of capacity.  Biomass Alternative Power plans on selling its electricity to Florida’s NextEra Energy.  The New Jersey start-up’s natural gas is to be purchased by British Petroleum (BP) for possible transport to California via cross-country pipeline.

When up and running, Licciardello says Biomass Alternative Power will become the only commercial duckweed-to-bioenergy conversion operator in North America.

“The production of ethanol and biogas from duckweed still cannot compete against petroleum products (gasoline and natural gas) economically,” said Jay Cheng, an agricultural and biological engineer at North Carolina State University.

It’s a view again not shared by Licciardello, however, who claims that his own start-up’s natural gas production from duckweed can already easily compete with natural gas garnered via fracking.

Once up to speed, Biomass Alternative Power will process about a million sq. ft. of duckweed per day says Licciardello.  But he remains undecided about whether his greenhouse lagoons will be filled with wastewater or whether the company will fertilize their ponds with phosphorous, nitrogen and potash.

However, revenue streams from processing wastewater treatment for counties and municipalities could arguably aid fledgling duckweed bioenergy start-ups’ bottom lines.

Duckweed in Argentina

There may even be room for more socially-conscious entities, such as Argentina’s Mamagrande, a Buenos Aires-based biotech concern that has a stated goal of “regenerating ecosystems” by using duckweed to cleanup wastewater.  It may also eventually ferment the duckweed’s starch into lactic acid to manufacture biodegradable plastic and/or bioethanol.

Funded with only several hundred thousand dollars, Mamagrande currently is working with a 4 hectare (9.88 acre) pilot plant in the small Argentinean town of Totoras.

Eduardo Mercovich, one of Mamagrande’s co-founders, says the initial cost of the duckweed needed to get such projects going is almost negligible.  That’s in part because, as he notes, usually within a month’s time, the plant can grow to cover a hectare (2.47 acres) of a lagoon’s surface area.

“In our pilot plant,” said Mercovich, “we should have ten fresh wet tons of duckweed per day; or about a quarter ton of starch per day; half of which would produce 100 liters of ethanol daily.”

Mercovich says that once Mamagrande’s duckweed process is proven in Argentina, its technology will be made publicly available.  He notes that in both Brazil and Argentina, ethanol is currently made from either corn or sugar cane.  But unlike cane or corn, as Mercovich points out, duckweed needs less energy to process.

Bioengineering Starch for Ethanol

If future duckweed bioenergy entrepreneurs can find some sort of revenue-generating synchronicity with global municipalities interested in cleaning up wastewater — either to be reused as graywater for agricultural irrigation or for drinking water — then duckweed may find a viable bioenergy conversion niche.  And as Stomp points out, it also compares favorably with corn, as it is likely easier to isolate starch from duckweed. 

After over 15 years of duckweed research in the laboratory, Stomp explains that she and Cheng proved that once loaded into a fermentation vessel, more than 95 percent of its starch could be converted into ethanol.

“By growing duckweed on wastewater from hog production,” said Stomp, “we harvested duckweed biomass at the rate of 20 grams of dry weight per sq. meter a day, which is equivalent to 54,000 kg of dry weight on 2.5 acres a year.”

Stomp notes that if this 54,000 kg of dry weight duckweed were only 50 percent starch then it would yield something like 27,000 kg of starch for every 2.5 acres, or roughly four times the starch that could be expected from 2.5 acres of corn.

Stomp, however, says that by using enzymatic degradation of corn stover, the traditionally unused portion of a corn plant for ethanol conversion itself, then that “drastically” increases dry weight biomass that can harvested from an acre of corn.

But with bioengineering, duckweed would likely still have an edge on corn.

“You could probably trick this plant into accumulating starch to as much as 75 percent; [roughly] the same starch percentage as corn,” said Stomp. *

 http://www.renewableenerg...oenergy-commercialization

* Agelbert NOTE: Not mentioned is the fact that it takes MUCH longer to get that "high percentage of starch" in corn than the 40% or so in Duckweed. Also, ALL of the duckweed has that starch content whereas corn only has it in the seed with LOTS of wasted energy (from a starch production standpoint) used to make the rest of the plant with a huge stalk and root system. Duckweed is ALL usable product. Duckweed has much less lignin content that corn. Lignin is the THE biggest chemical bugaboo obstacle because it is expensive to rid the feed stock of it in preparation for making biofuel. So yeah, duckweed beats the living daylights out of corn and even switchgrass, never mind that corn and switchgrass have short growing seasons and Duckweed can be grown ALL YEAR.   

http://www.youtube.com/wa...p;feature=player_embedded


My comment posted on the article web site:



A. G. Gelbert   
 June 24, 2014 

Great Article! I just want to add the tiniest flowering plant known to science (Lemna minor - Duckweed), also has great promise as a source of nutrition and bioremediation of the environment at the same time.

This wonder plant grows almost everywhere on earth, can be fertilized with pig feces, thereby avoiding chemical fertilizers and nitrogen waste farm runoff, grows in shallow ponds with no need of continual water resupply once the initial pond is set up, does not replace crop land because ponds can be placed over non arable land all over the world to help sequester carbon, can be used as feed for animal and nutrient supplements for humans to prevent malnutrition, have even been used as environmental markers to detect heavy metal pollutants in water and, last but not least, is a known natural water purifier (lower the fecal coliform count to acceptable levels).

The Chinese have actually proposed Duckweed refineries because, as long as crude oil costs more that $80 a barrel, biofuel hydrocarbons form the Duckweed carbohydrates are profitable. Duckweed, unlike many cellulose biofuel plant sources is extremely low in lignin . This makes the extraction process far simpler, cheaper and more environmentally friendly that making biofuel out corn (a horrible choice only a fossil fuel lover could like) or even sugar can, which is eight times more efficient as a biofuel source than corn. Even switchgrass varieties have more lignin than Duckweed.

I am firmly convinced this humble plant is part of a human future in a viable biosphere. I have video and research data as well as links below.

Duckweed, The Little Green Plant that Could.

http://renewablerevolutio...aterials/msg1012/#msg1012

We need to transition to 100% renewable Energy sources. Duckweed is part of the answer to how we can accomplish this herculean task quickly.

If you agree, please sign this petition to President Obama:

Demand Liberty From Fossil Fuels Through 100% Renewable Energy WWII Style Effort

Here's a link to the petition: http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/Ai3Tb

We did it with the Liberty Ship massive building effort in WWII; we can do it again with Renewable energy technology and infrastructure.

Thank you

Anthony G. Gelbert
Green Leaf Star American in the Service of Future Generations

http://renewablerevolutio...reateaforum.com/index.php


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AGelbert

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Ethiopian mustard, Abyssinian mustard.
Latin Name: Brassica carinata.
Plant Family: Brassicaceae



Pass the Mustard: Why Carinata is Taking Root as Biofuel







http://www.renewableenerg...as-biofuel#comment-133006

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AGelbert

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Green Crude
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2014, 02:31:17 am »
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AGelbert

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Re: Plant Based Products for a Sustainable civilization
« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2014, 03:58:23 pm »

This is the Urbee 2 (Google it  :emthup: :icon_mrgreen:), a car made out of parts created by a 3D printer. The developers hope to have it on the road by 2015, and will attempt to drive it across the country using just 10 gallons of gas. 



Agelbert NOTE: As long as the resin is a plant based plastic (hello HEMP!  :icon_mrgreen:), this process will save a lot of energy in manufacturing, transport to point of sale AND use of the vehicle due it's extremely low weight. And just as a whale is every bit as efficient as a dolphin, this shape can be put to use in large vehicles too! It's not just about some tiny runabout!   
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AGelbert

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United Airlines launches first regularly scheduled sustainable biofuel flights  ;D

http://www.treehugger.com...able-biofuel-flights.html
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AGelbert

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Agelbert NOTE: Although the following post is about duckweed as a bio-fuel source, it is just as important, if not more so, to understand that duckweed is the ONLY plant out there that could actually lower the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere. This, of course, would be contingent on the banning of the burning of fossil fuels. We know the corrupted powers that be don't want to do that.  >:( But even if they don't, they will soon be FORCED to seek out the plant that is most likely to "sequester Carbon" (what a ridiculous bit of jargon for absorption of CO2!) at a rate that could start us on the way back to 280PPM of CO2 (Pre-industrial levels).

The geo-engineering techno-fix fossil fuel industry SCAM simply will not work. But the fossil fuel industry corrupted governments all over the world will probably try it, which will certainly make some people rich while it makes things worse for the biosphere.

A massive Duckweed production campaign all over presently non-arable land areas would work IF if  banned the burning fossil fuels completely.

That would be the intelligent and prudent thing to do.
So, we can count on our fossil fuel industry corrupted governments to NOT do it. 

I LOVE DUCKWEED!



http://renewablerevolutio...es/ethanol/msg217/#msg217

Pond-dwelling powerhouse’s genome points to its biofuel potential


Duckweed is a tiny floating plant that’s been known to drive people daffy. It’s one of the smallest and fastest-growing flowering plants   ;D that often becomes a hard-to-control weed in ponds and small lakes. But it’s also been exploited to clean contaminated water and as a source to produce pharmaceuticals. Now, the genome of Greater Duckweed (Spirodela polyrhiza) has given this miniscule plant’s potential as a biofuel source a big boost. In a paper published February 19, 2014 in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from Rutgers University, the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute and several other facilities detailed the complete genome of S. polyrhiza and analyzed it in comparison to several other plants, including rice and tomatoes.

Duckweed, a small, common plant that grows in ponds and stagnant waters, is an ideal candidate as a biofuel raw material.  ;D Photo (at link) by Texx Smith, via flickr
 
Simple and primitive, a duckweed plant consists of a single small kidney-shaped leaf about the size of a pencil-top eraser that floats on the surface of the water with a few thin roots underwater. It grows in almost all geographic areas, at nearly any altitude. Although it’s a flowering plant, it only rarely forms small indistinct flowers on the underside of its floating leaves. Most of the time, it reproduces by budding off small leaves that are clones of the parent leaf. It often forms thick mats on the edges of ponds, quiet inlets of lakes and in marshes. It’s among the fastest growing plants, able to double its population in a couple of days under ideal conditions.

These and other properties make it an ideal candidate as a biofuel feedstock – a raw source for biofuel production. For example, unlike plants on land, duckweeds don’t need to hold themselves upright or transport water from distant roots to their leaves, so they’re a relatively soft and pliable plant, containing tiny amounts of woody material such as lignin and cellulose. Removing these woody materials from feedstock has been a major challenge in biofuel production. Also, although they are small enough to grow in many environments, unlike biofuel-producing microbes, duckweed plants are large enough to harvest easily. ;D

S. polyrhiza turns out to have one of the smallest known plant genomes, at about 158 million base pairs and fewer than 20,000 protein-encoding genes. That’s 27 percent fewer than Arabidopsis thaliana – which, until recently, was believed to be the smallest plant genome – and nearly half as many as rice plants.

Spirodela is one of the smallest plants in the world. Here (at the link)it is displayed with other comparable plants.

 
“The most surprising find was insight into the molecular basis for genes involved in maturation – a forever-young lifestyle,” said senior author Joachim Messing, director of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University.

S. polyrhiza leaves resemble cotyledons, embryonic leaves inside plant seeds that become the first leaves after germination. But where other plants develop other kinds of leaves as they mature, S. polyrhiza’s never progresses and continuously produces cotyledon leaves. This prolonging of juvenile traits is called “neoteny.” S. polyrhiza had fewer genes to promote and more genes to repress the switch from juvenile to mature growth.

“Because of the reduction in neoteny, there is an arrest in development and differentiation of organs. So this arrest allowed us to uncover regulatory networks that are required for differentiation and development,” Messing said.

Also intriguing to the research team were which genes were preserved over time and which were not. Many of the genes responsible for cellulose and lignin production in land dwelling plants were missing,   and there were fewer copies of those that were present. Genes for another compound related to cell walls called “expansins” which are involved with cell wall and root growth were also reduced.

Genes for starch production, on the other hand, were retained and are probably used for creating starch-filled turions, specialized buds produced by aquatic plants for overwintering, enabling them sink to the bottom of ponds and revive in warmer weather. Moreover, despite the reduced number of total genes, S. polyrhiza has more copies of genes for enzymes involved in nitrogen absorption and metabolism than in other plants. This is probably linked to the plant’s ability to utilize excess nitrogen in contaminated waters.


A thorough understanding of the genome and cellular mechanisms of S. polyrhiza could greatly enhance current efforts to recruit duckweed as a biofuel source.Messing estimates that duckweed will be a viable biofuel source within the next five years and points to Ceres Energy Group in New Jersey, which is already producing electricity from duckweed. Understanding which genes produce which traits will allow researchers to create new varieties of duckweed with enhanced biofuel traits, such as increased reduction of cellulose or increased starch or even higher lipid production. Starch can be directly used as a biofuel source and it can be converted to ethanol, the way corn is currently converted to ethanol fuel, but oils would have greater energy than ethanol.

Duckweed is a relatively simple plant with fronds that float on the surface of the water and roots that extend into the water. In the flask on the left, you can see the dormant phase, turions, that have dropped to the bottom. Photo (at link) by Wenquin Wang
 
“Classical breeding or genetics does not apply here because of its clonal propagation and rare flowering, but these organisms can be transformed with DNA,” Messing said. “Therefore, new variants can be created with modified pathways for industrial applications. These variants would be an enhancement over what can be done now.”

This genome was sequenced as part of a DOE Office of Science JGI Community Science Program (CSP) project (formerly the Community Sequencing Program). It exemplifies the collaborative approach and innovative projects that the CSP enables among researchers. Messing pointed to the study’s advances over previous research.

“The sequencing of this genome opens new frontiers in the molecular biology of aquatic plants,” said Messing. “This publication represents the single largest advance in this field and a new milestone in plant molecular biology and evolution, as previous studies were either classical botany or biochemistry of photosynthesis. The placement of the Spirodela genome as a basal monocot species will serve as a new reference for all flowering plants.”

A video interview with Messing on the promise of duckweed can be found here:

The authors on the publication also include researchers from MIPS/IBIS, Helmholtz Center Munich, Germany; University of California, Davis; Georgia Institute of Technology; Brookhaven National Laboratory; Donald Danforth Plant Science Center; University of Jena, Germany, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology; and the Leibniz-Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK), Germany.

The DOE Joint Genome Institute has announced a new call for letters of intent for the 2015 Community Science Program, due April 10, 2014. Details of the 2015 CSP call can be found at: http://bit.ly/CSP-15.

The U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, supported by the DOE Office of Science, is committed to advancing genomics in support of DOE missions related to clean energy generation and environmental characterization and cleanup. DOE JGI, headquartered in Walnut Creek, Calif., provides integrated high-throughput sequencing and computational analysis that enable systems-based scientific approaches to these challenges. Follow @doe_jgi on Twitter.

DOE’s Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

Filed Under: News Releases
http://jgi.doe.gov/pond-d...points-biofuel-potential/
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AGelbert

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Bamboo is, POUND FOR POUND, stronger than steel.

And, of course, UNLIKE steel, which requires polluting mining, heating, beating and treating, we can grow as much as we need (it grows quite well in MANY areas, including Puerto Rico, all over the world) sustainably.
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