STFC Rutherford Appleton Lab spin-off seeking to develop and commercialize a novel solid-state hydrogen storage technology; transportation applications
Linc Energy acquires more UCG coal exploration acreage in Alaska

Researchers determine Agave is a high-yielding bioenergy crop

Scientists found that in 14 independent studies, the yields of two Agave species greatly exceeded the yields of other biofuel feedstocks, such as corn, soybean, sorghum, and wheat. Additionally, even more productive Agave species that have not yet been evaluated exist.

Agaves are succulents with large rosettes of thick fleshy leaves. One species, Agave azul is used in the production of tequila. Agave syrup is used as an alternative to sugar in cooking.

The findings are highlighted in a special issue of the journal Global Change Biology Bioenergy which focuses on the potential of agave as a bioenergy feedstock.

We need bioenergy crops that have a low risk of unintended land use change. Biomass from Agave can be harvested as a co-product of tequila production without additional land demands. Also, abandoned Agave plantations in Mexico and Africa that previously supported the natural fiber market could be reclaimed as bioenergy cropland. More research on Agave species is warranted to determine the tolerance ranges of the highest yielding varieties that would be most viable for bioenergy production in semi-arid regions of the world

—Sarah Davis, University of Illinois



Regardless of the species, the use of good corp land to produce fuels for our gas guzzlers is not sustainable. The soon to be 10+ billion people to feed will need most of the existing crop land.

We should instead capture and use sun energy directly for our electrified future vehicles including boats, locomotives, buses, tractors etc.


"the use of good corp land"

The whole point here is that semi-arid, degraded, NON-cropland is able to produce more biomass per acre than a corn field. In addition, agave does not require irrigation or fertilizer, only about 20" of rainfall. In fact large tracts of land that are now unusable could be remediated.


Not only should we capture and use sun energy directly for our electrified future vehicles we should also grow our food more directly.

Farming, and the transport of farmed food uses a lot of fossil fuels. The average item of food in the United States travels at least 1500 miles.

On average every pound of food we eat has 5 pounds of CO2 released by the time it hits our plates:
Single cheeseburger - 7 - 14 lbs CO2
Pound of lamb - ~ 16 lbs CO2
Pound of beef - ~ 15 lbs CO2
Pound of pork - 6.75 lbs* CO2
Pound of chicken - 3.37 lbs* CO2
Pound of wild tuna - 4.5 lbs* CO2
Pound of wild-caught shrimp - 2.7 lbs
Pound of wild salmon - 0.06 lbs
Pound of hothouse tomatoes - ~ 9 lbs CO2
Pound of potatoes - ~ .4 lbs CO2
Quart of milk - ~ 3 pounds CO2 equivalent
* Emissions in relation to feed only.

There are better ideas;

And for a low tech approach there's also urban farms on city brown fields;
and garden share programs for your own backyards. Garden sharing is a local food and urban farming arrangement where a landowner allows a gardener access to land, typically a front or back yard, in order to grow food. This may be an informal, one-to-one relationship, but numerous Web-based projects exist to facilitate matchmaking;


I live in So CA, on sandy soil. My Agave grows well, in an area I don't irrigate. I wouldn't waste dryland wheatland on Agave, but I can see the possibility of fuel use for Agave. It is currently being used medicinally (an old Native American healer for burns and some cuts), for tequilla, (as one type of this plant is used). I believe there are 5 different Agave plants, each with differing properties. Agave is well suited to semi-arrid areas, that do not have irrigation or require much labor, thus it does not compete with food crops. I see no reason why large solar farms could not also be large Agave farms. I have solar on my roof and Agave in the earth, it works for me.


If you touch my cheeseburger I will eat you.


If you touch my cheeseburger I will eat you.

There's no need to go without, just source the ingredients closer to home.


You may find that to get good yields, you need more water.
That is what they found with Jatropha - yes, it WILL grow in arid regions, but the yields are crap.
If you want decent yields with Jatropha, you needs extra water.
It will probably be the same with Agave.

Deni, both the PVs and the Agave's will need light, plus the PVs will make harvesting Agave difficult to automate.

Still, if true, it would be great.


"It will probably be the same with Agave." is not the same with Agave! Your assumption is incorrect. More water actually decreases yields.


I doubt this is a solution to our energy woes, but anything which grows on very arid land and fixes carbon is going to be helpful; being usable for food is a big plus, and keeping people happy with tequila... well, it could be lots worse.

George Furey

"the use of good corp land"

"It will probably be the same with Agave."

Somehow I get the feeling that people aren't even fully reading the articles posted on GCC anymore, or they just make wild assumptions.

George Furey

This sounds like it has a similar advantage as Algae based biofuels.

1) A higher energy per acre density. (Although not quite the 7-30x claimed by algae companies)

2) A lower requirement for water and fertilizer

3) Ability to grow on "semi-arid, degraded, NON-cropland" meaning that with the right incentives it will NOT compete with food.

I am quite surprised this is the first I have heard of using agave for biofuels.


And ai, after about 6 shots, I'll let you test my CO2. Ha!

The comments to this entry are closed.