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Ethanol and High-Value Terpene Co-Production from Lignocellulosic Biomass of Cymbopogon flexuosus and Cymbopogon martinii

Joyce, Blake L., Zheljazkov, Valtcho D., Sykes, Robert, Cantrell, Charles L., Hamilton, Choo, Mann, David G. J., Rodriguez, Miguel, Mielenz, Jonathan R., Astatkie, Tess, Stewart, C. Neal, Yang, Shihui
Plos One 2015 v.10 no.10 pp. e0139195-1
Cymbopogon flexuosus, Cymbopogon martinii, Panicum virgatum, biofuels, biomass, economic sustainability, essential oils, ethanol, fertilizer application, grasses, lignocellulose, nitrogen, nitrogen fertilizers, soil-plant interactions, sulfur, sulfur fertilizers, terpenoids
Cymbopogon flexuosus and C. martinii are perennial grasses grown to produce essential oils for the fragrance industry. The objectives of this study were (1) to evaluate biomass and oil yields as a function of nitrogen and sulfur fertilization, and (2) to characterize their utility for lignocellulosic ethanol compared to Panicum virgatum (switchgrass). Mean biomass yields were 12.83 Mg lemongrass ha-1 and 15.11 Mg palmarosa ha-1 during the second harvest year resulting in theoretical biofuel yields of 2541 and 2569 L ethanol ha-1 respectively compared to reported 1749-3691 L ethanol ha-1 for switchgrass. Pretreated lemongrass yielded 198 mL ethanol (g biomass)-1 and pretreated palmarosa yielded 170 mL. Additionally, lemongrass yielded 85.7 kg essential oil ha-1 and palmarosa yielded 67.0 kg ha-1 with an estimated value of (USD) 857 and 1005 ha-1. These data suggest that dual use crops such as lemongrass and palmarosa may increase the economic viability of lignocellulosic biofuels.