Global bioenergy potential from high-lignin agricultural residue

Venugopal Mendu, Tom Shearin, J. Elliott Campbell, Jozsef Stork, Jungho Jae, Mark Crocker, George Huber, Seth DeBolt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Almost one-quarter of the world's population has basic energy needs that are not being met. Efforts to increase renewable energy resources in developing countries where per capita energy availability is low are needed. Herein, we examine integrated dual use farming for sustained food security and agro-bioenergy development. Many nonedible crop residues are used for animal feed or reincorporated into the soil to maintain fertility. By contrast, drupe endocarp biomass represents a high-lignin feedstock that is a waste stream from food crops, such as coconut (Cocos nucifera) shell, which is nonedible, not of use for livestock feed, and not reintegrated into soil in an agricultural setting. Because of highlignin content, endocarp biomass has optimal energy-to-weight returns, applicable to small-scale gasification for bioelectricity. Using spatial datasets for 12 principal drupe commodity groups that have notable endocarp byproduct, we examine both their potential energy contribution by decentralized gasification and relationship to regions of energy poverty. Globally, between 24 million and 31 million tons of drupe endocarp biomass is available per year, primarily driven by coconut production. Endocarp biomass used in small-scale decentralized gasification systems (15-40% efficiency) could contribute to the total energy requirement of several countries, the highest being Sri Lanka (8-30%) followed by Philippines (7-25%), Indonesia (4-13%), and India (1-3%). While representing a modest gain in global energy resources, mitigating energy poverty via decentralized renewable energy sources is proposed for rural communities in developing countries, where the greatest disparity between societal allowances exist.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4014-4019
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 6 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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