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Volume 13 (2013/2014) Article 12
An exploration of common reed (Phragmites australis) bioenergy potential in North America.
by R. Vaičekonytė, E. Kiviat, F. Nsenga and A. Ostfeld
Published online: 03.10.2014
In North America, reed (Phragmites australis) is typically considered to be a weed although it provides important ecosystem services. Small, sparse, patchy or mixed reedbeds are more suitable as habitat for many species than extensive dense reedbeds, whose habitat functions can be enhanced by the selective removal of biomass. We propose that above-ground reed biomass could be harvested for bioenergy, at the same time improving habitat for biodiversity by thinning or fragmenting the more extensive reedbeds. Biofuel pellets manufactured from reeds harvested at Montréal (Canada) had moisture content 6.4 %, energy content 16.9 kJ g-1 (dry mass), ash content 3.44 %, and chloride content 1962 ppm. Thus, reed as a material for fuel pellet manufacture is similar to switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), which is commonly cultivated for that purpose and requires higher inputs than harvested wild reed. We discuss these findings in the context of environmental considerations and conclude that the bioenergy potential of reed could most expediently be realised in North America by combining material harvested from the widespread spontaneously occurring reedbeds with organic waste from other sources to create mixed biofuels. However, reeds with high levels of chlorine, sulphur or metals should not be burned to avoid air pollution or equipment damage unless these problems are mitigated by means of appropriate season of harvest, equipment, combustion regime, or use of a mixed feedstock.
Vaičekonytė, R., Kiviat, E., Nsenga, F. & Ostfeld, A (2014): An exploration of common reed (Phragmites australis) bioenergy potential in North America. Mires and Peat 13: Art. 12. (Online: http://www.mires-and-peat.net/pages/volumes/map13/map1312.php)
IMCG and IPS acknowledge the work of the reviewers.