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Tequila by-product as bioenergy crop

Agave, often used in alcoholic drinks and fibres, could be a potential bioenergy crop, according to researchers.

By Renewable Energy Focus staff

Agave thrives in semi-arid regions and its high water use efficiency means it can survive without water between rainfalls, making it less likely to conflict with food and feed production.

In 14 independent studies, the yields of two Agave species were found to greatly exceed the yields of other bioenergy feedstocks such as corn, soybean, sorghum and wheat.

Even more productive Agave species exist that have not yet been evaluated.

Bioenergy Analyst, Sarah Davis, says: “We need bioenergy crops that have a low risk of unintended land use change. Biomass from Agave can be harvested as a co-product of tequila production without additional land demands.

“Also, abandoned Agave plantations in Mexico and Africa that previously supported the natural fibre market could be reclaimed as bioenergy cropland.

“More research on Agave species is warranted to determine the tolerance ranges of the highest yielding varieties that would be most viable for bioenergy production in semi-arid regions of the world.”

The findings have been published in the bimonthly journal Global Change Biology Bioenergy.

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