We develop better forage grasses for bioenergy

With a high dry-matter yield, grasses are a highly suitable energy carrier for bioenergy production. At DLF, we've developed a range of public-private partnerships to explore the use of grasses for biogas and second-generation biofuel production.

For example, the 5m€ Bio4Bio project looks at how the microbiological pre-treatment of various grasses could improve their feedstock quality. In this project, supported by the Strategic Research Counsel, we're working with Novozymes, Inbicon, CBMI, Terranol A/S, and eight Danish universities.

Feedstock quality can also be improved by breeding grass varieties low in lignin. Lignin is a cell-wall constituent that reduces fermentation efficiency in the biomass-to-bioenergy conversion. At our Research Division we're constantly screening grasses for rare variants with very little lignin or a better composition of lignin. The task is supported by projects such as Renewall, in which we're working with several European scientific groups to find gene variants with easily convertible grass-cell walls.

Another aspect of bioenergy production is the use of arable land for growing bioenergy crops instead of feed or food. In a 3,9m€ EU project called GrassMargins we're investigating which grass species and varieties do best on marginal soils. These are soils subject to drought, salt, cold, low input of nutrients, and low levels of maintenance – locations better suited to perennial grasses such as festulolium, tall fescue, and cocksfoot.

Selection of salt tolerant grasses for biomass production at marginal soils