Monday, November 2, 2009: 1:50 PM
Convention Center, Room 305, Third Floor
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandates production of 21 billion gallons of advanced (16 billion of which is cellulosic) biofuels, requiring ~200 million dry tons of plant biomass annually by 2022. Due to economic and environmental advantages, perennials are likely to be strong competitors among crops developed specifically for the cellulosic biofuel industry. Miscanthus is an essentially unimproved wild-species, yet already out-yields alternative biomass crops like switchgrass across much of the US and Europe. Greater than 10,000 acres of Miscanthus have been established in the UK, primarily for co-firing with coal for electricity production. The vast majority of this was from rhizome propagation of a single sterile clone of Miscanthus x giganteus. Commercial development of Miscanthus in the US is currently limited by propagule availability and cost, along with a standard establishment protocol which is alien to most potential growers. We are breeding seeded varieties of Miscanthus to address these challenges. In parallel, we are starting to evaluate potential agronomic practices appropriate for seed production and establishment of Miscanthus. The robust growth properties which make it perform as a top bioenergy crop, also leads to concerns about potential invasiveness. We will discuss the key traits we will evaluate throughout our breeding and development programs to ensure we release only varieties that are non-invasive in the production zone.