It seems like the search for alternative biofuels has been going on for years. I remember people talking about using grease and all kinds of other products over the past 15 years.
Well, here’s a new one you can now throw into the ring: agave. That’s right, the plant is being touted by scientists in Australia as the new big biofuel source.
You’re probably most familiar with agave because it is a base ingredient in tequila (yay!) and it’s in that delicious agave syrup. The desert plant that is native to the Americas is catching on in popularity in Australia and last year the first spirit made from Australian-grown agave was released.
Because of the agave boom Down Under, researchers at the University of Sydney have been growing and studying agave plants.
In a study, the researchers said,
“Overall, the results show that agave is promising for biofuel production in the water-energy-food-environment context.”
The researchers added that in order to get to that level, the agave energy industry will need a big boost from the Australian government. The country is known as a renewable energy leader around the world and is known to support projects such as this one.
Agave would be a good biofuel crop choice because it is rich in energy and, since it is a desert plant, it can be grown in very arid conditions.
The researchers say that comparable or even better than sugarcane or corn:
“Our study shows that ethanol yields from agave are comparable to Brazilian sugarcane and higher than US corn ethanol.
[A]gave outperforms current first generation biofuel crops in Freshwater Eutrophication (96% lower than corn and 88% lower than sugarcane), Marine Ecotoxicity (59% lower than corn and 53% lower than sugarcane) and Water Consumption (46% lower than corn and 69% lower than sugarcane).”
The Australian scientists are also claiming that the bioethanol made from agave plants could be used to make hand sanitizer…and we all know how much we could use that right about now…
Sounds like a win-win to me!