Journal article Open Access

Deciphering Substrate-Specific Methane Yields of Perennial Herbaceous Wild Plant Species

von Cossel, Moritz; Pereira, Lorena Agra; Lewandowski, Iris

The global demand for plant biomass to provide bioenergy and heat is continuously increasing because of a growing interest among many industrialized and developing countries towards climate sound and renewable energy supply. The exacerbation of land-use conflicts proliferates social-ecological demands on future bioenergy cropping systems. Perennial herbaceous wild plant mixtures (WPMs) represent an approach to providing social-ecologically more sustainably produced biogas substrate that has gained increasing public and political interest only in recent years. The focus of this study lies on three perennial wild plant species (WPS) that usually dominate the biomass yield performance of WPM cultivation. These WPS were compared with established biogas crops in terms of their substrate-specific methane yield (SMY) and lignocellulosic composition. The plant samples were investigated in a small-scale mesophilic discontinuous biogas batch test for determining the SMY. All WPS were found to have significantly lower SMY (241.5–248.5 lN kgVS−1) than maize (337.5 lN kgVS−1). This was attributed to higher contents of lignin (9.7–12.8% of dry matter) as well as lower contents of hemicellulose (9.9–11.5% of dry matter) in the WPS. Only minor, non-significant differences to cup plant and Virginia mallow were observed. Thus, when planning WPS as a diversification measure in biogas cropping systems, their lower SMY should be considered.

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