SciDev. Halophytic perennial grasses that thrive in saline areas could serve as a viable source for ligno-cellulosic feedstock for cellulosic ethanol as well and help reclaim vast stretches of unproductive land in Pakistan, according to a new study published in the Journal of Biomass and Bioenergy.
... ethanol demands met from sources used for food may cause food shortage. This necessitates exploiting saline lands to produce non-food ligno-cellulosic biomass which, may be converted into ethanol without compromising human food production. Halophytes which produce plenty of biomass using saline resources (water and soil) may be an important alternative. This study shows that species like Halopyrum mucronatum, Desmostachya bipinnata, Phragmites karka, Typha domingensis and Panicum turgidum found in the coastal region of Pakistan, have potential as bio-ethanol crops. These perennial grasses are salt tolerant with high growth rates to produce ligno-cellulosic biomass of good quality (26–37% cellulose, 24–38% hemi-cellulose and <10% lignin) for ethanol production.—Abideen et al.
“These plants do not compete for good quality water and productive farmlands. They can be potentially used to produce large amounts of biomass while grown with brackish water on saline land, without competing with conventional agriculture,” Khan told SciDev.Net. “They could also help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by absorbing carbon dioxide to make food.”
Zainul Abideen, Raziuddin Ansari, M. Ajmal Khan (2011) Halophytes: Potential source of ligno-cellulosic biomass for ethanol production, Biomass and Bioenergy, Volume 35, Issue 5, Pages 1818-1822, doi: 10.1016/j.biombioe.2011.01.023