Crop Biotech Update

Sunn Hemp Shows Promise as Biofuel Source

January 6, 2012

In a quest for renewable energy sources, scientists at the US Department of Agriculture found that the tropical legume sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea) can be used to generate lignocellulosic feedstock. The fast growing crop can be used in crop rotation and can yield high biomass.

Comparing the energy content of the sunn hemp with cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) showed that the higher heating value (HHV) of the former exceeds that of switchgrass, bermudagrass, reed canarygrass and alfalfa in the 2004 test. Sunn hemp biomass yielded 4.5 tons per acre, equivalent to 82.4 gigajoules equivalent to the energy in 620 gallons gasoline.

In the 2004 and the next season test in 2006, the HHV for sunn hemp was 4 to 5 percent greater than the HHV of cowpeas.

The original news can be viewed at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2012/120103.htm.