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Potential of Eichhornia crassipes for biomass refining

Hronich, Jessica E., Martin, Lealon, Plawsky, Joel, Bungay, Henry R.
Journal of industrial microbiology & biotechnology 2008 v.35 no.5 pp. 393-402
Eichhornia crassipes, noxious weeds, aquatic weeds, invasive species, biomass, biorefining, biofuels, bioenergy, ethanol, ethanol production, renewable energy sources
Here we explore the utilization of Eichhornia crassipes, commonly known as water hyacinth, as a competitive source of biomass for conversion to fuel. Ecologically, E. crassipes is the most undesirable of a class of noxious and invasive aquatic vegetation. Water hyacinth grows rapidly on the surface of waterways, forming a dense mat which depletes the surrounding environment of essential nutrients. These properties, rarely encountered in other plant systems, are features of an ideal feedstock for renewable biomass. The high characteristic water content limits the range over which the material can be transported; however it also makes E. crassipes a natural substrate for rapid microbial metabolism that can be employed as a potentially effective biological pretreatment technology. We show through a life cycle analysis that water hyacinth is a competitive feedstock with the potential to be produced at a cost of approximately $40 per ton of dry mass.