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2009 June 09

Bioelectricty more water-efficient than biofuels

David Landes
Generating electricity from biomass uses nearly half the water needed to produce biofuels, according to a new study.

The findings come from researchers at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, who set about determining the “water footprint” for 13 different crops, ScienceDaily reports.

The researchers looked at the amount of water required to cultivate the various crops and found that bioenergy uses much more water than other forms of energy when measured by the volume of water needed to generate one gigajoule of energy.

However, their findings, which were published in the June 2nd edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), suggest that the production of bioelectricity is nearly twice as water-efficient when compared with the production of biofuels.

Biodiesel derived from rapeseed or soya, for example, requires 14,000 litres of water to produce one litre of fuel, while biodiesel from jatropha requires 20,000 litres of water per litre.

According to the study’s authors, bioelectricity is more water efficient than biofuels because it is more efficient to use all of a plant (i.e. burning to generate electricity), rather than a just a portion of the crop (i.e the sugar or oil for biofuels).

Read the full article here.

Read the study here.