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Bamboo Biofuel and Biodiesel

The use of bamboo as an ingredient in biofuel is a topic that comes up frequently in renewable energy talks. Can bamboo really be a source of renewable energy? The process of converting a biomass to a liquid energy source can be fairly difficult in the case of the bamboo plant. The plant is hardy and not easy to harvest, but produces a high level of biomass. Researchers are looking for a method of harnessing the energy of bamboo and there have been several proposed methods of doing so.

Fischer-Tropsch Process for Bamboo Bio Diesel

The Fischer-Tropsch is a multi step process of converting biomass to biofuel. In a nutshell, this process a catalyzed chemical reaction that takes a gas mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, and converts it into liquid hydrocarbons. This reaction will take place in temperatures between 150-200 degrees Celsius. The resulting hydrocarbons are the basis of fuels used into today's world, and are a great alternative to petroleum. Although this process is successfully creating biodiesel today... The big question remains as to whether or not bamboo can be a useful basis in this process. It is rich in carbon, but it could be a long time before it can be used effectively in this process. There exists very little practical experimentation with bamboo in the Fischer-Tropsch process, but the idea has been put forth.

The Future of Bamboo in Biofuels

If bamboo could be efficiently converted into fuel, the rise of bamboo as a non-food crop could grow in the United States. Deforested areas could be colonized by bamboo four times faster than most native plants. Private property owners would also have more incentive to grow bamboo to become energy self sufficient. There is already an abundance of bamboo throughout Asia, and its popularity is growing rapidly in the United States. If a legitimate process of converting its mass into liquid fuel were developed, one would assume that its popularity would only grow larger. This would allow people to produce rapidly growing fuel sources, and discontinue the use of petrol based fuels. The future is exciting for bamboo bio-fuel and we will post future updates as we receive them.

Biofuel Floating - Bamboo Bio-DieselBamboo Biofuel (Photo: Steve Jurvetson)