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Q: Why is it so difficult to pellet over-wintered switchgrass?
A: Grass left out in the field over winter, most of the inflorescence (head) component is lost, and some of the leaves. Grass is leached free of all soluble components, and is also very low in protein content. Soluble components and proteins are helpful as binding agents for pelleting. Lignin is also a good binding agent, but lignin content of grasses is much lower than wood. As a result the overwintered grass strongly resists pelleting.

For more Frequently Asked Questions, see our FAQ.


Why consider grasses as biofuel?

Reed canarygrass ready to harvest

It takes 70 days to grow a crop of grass pellet fuel.

It takes 70 million years to grow a crop of fossil fuel.

Grass pellets have great potential as a low-tech, small-scale, environmentally-friendly, renewable energy system that can be locally produced, locally processed and locally consumed. As the US focuses on energy security, grass bioenergy is one of the ways that rural communities can move towards energy security. New York State has about 1.5 million acres of unused or underutilized agricultural land, most of which is already growing grass.

Grass biofuel production does not need to divert any of the current agricultural productivity into the energy market; this biomass industry can be completely independent from, but complimentary to, the production of food or animal feed. It is also a very “farmer-friendly” way to get producers exposed to biofuel production. Some research and development is needed to optimize stoves and boilers for grass combustion, and to minimize emissions.

Grass Bioenergy Attributes