An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology Bioenergy reveals that Miscanthus x giganteus, a perennial grass, could effectively reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, while lowering atmospheric CO2.
Using a simulation tool that models the future global climate, researchers predict that the carbon that is released into the atmosphere from the loss of natural vegetation will be paid back by Miscanthus within 30 years. Previous estimates for other liquid biofuels, such as corn ethanol, were estimated to take 167-420 years to pay back their carbon debt.
The global concern over climate change has challenged researchers to explore ways to mitigate the damage we are doing to our environment. They are looking more closely at energy crops, like Miscanthus, to replace our need for fossil fuels like natural gas and oil, which raise atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
According to John Hughes, UK Met Office Research Scientist, "Our study demonstrates the huge potential of energy crops, in particular of Miscanthus. Also, by scaling the results up to the global scale as we do in this study we are developing a new set of tools for evaluating energy crops."
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