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Agricultural Research Service Scientists Establish Usage of Barley for Biofuel Production

Scientists working with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have established the use of barley grain in the production of ethanol.

They also have found that the surplus spin-offs such as hulls, barley straw and dried distillers grains (DDGS) can be employed in the production of bio-oil to generate energy. The bio-oil can be either used to generate enough heat and power to convert the barley grain into ethanol or can be used as transportation fuel.

The research on utilizing barley for the production of ethanol was performed by scientists from the Eastern Regional Research center of ARS at Wyndmoor, Penn. They deployed a technology known as fast pyrolysis to generate bio-oil from three byproducts of barley. The research lab by utilizing a kilogram of hulls and barley straw was able to produce nearly half a kilogram of bio-oil with a rated energy content, which can be equated to half of the No.2 type of diesel fuel oil. Similarly, the energy content of the bio-oil generated from barley DDGS, which includes the grains that are fouled with mycotoxins produced higher level of two-third of the No.2 type of diesel fuel oil energy, but is found to have relatively shorter shell life than the bio-oil generated from hulls or straw.

The bio-oil generating process also produced a spin-off product known as ‘biochar,’ which is expected to better the nutrient content of the soil and its water-retaining capability. Also the biochar is found to have the properties to retain the carbon content of the soil for a number of years.

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