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Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L.

that can be stored as syrup until needed (Bajpai and Bajpai, 1989). It is also important that appropriate cultivars are grown for biomass. Ethanol and spirits made from Jerusalem artichoke have many applications in the food industry and as an industrial chemical feedstock. Ethanol, for instance, is a key raw material in the manu­ facture of plastics, lacquers, and many other industrial products. Therefore, alternative markets exist for bioethanol should surpluses occur as a liquid fuel. Ethanol fermentation from Jerusalem artichoke also results in a range of valuable by-products, including a pulp (7% protein) utilizable as animal feed, protein concentrates, and a liquid crop fertilizer (Guiraud et aI., 1982). The economic value of animal feed by-products, in particular, is a key factor in the economic viability of using Jerusalem artichoke as an energy crop. The tuber residue remaining after ethanol distillation can be used as a feedstock for biogas production (see below). The crop has also been proposed as a dual source of ethanol and single-cell proteins, simultaneously produced using different groups of yeasts to ferment tuber extracts (Apaire et aI., 1983; Bajpai and Bajpai, 1989). The cultivation of biomass for energy on underutilized land can furthermore create new livelihoods for farmers, contribute to farm diversification, and create jobs in rural areas with high unemployment.

138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup

7.3.2

BIOGAS

(METHANE)

138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup

Biogas is a fuel produced by the anaerobic decomposition of wet organic matter (biomass), through the action of bacteria. As with natural gas, the main fuel component is methane. Biogas occurs naturally, for example, in swamps and marshes, where a layer of water gives rise to the necessary anaerobic conditions, and biogas from such sources can be harnessed as a fuel. Important feedstocks for the production of biogas in commercial. anaerobic digester systems include industrial and

138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup

domestic biowastes, slaughterhouse waste, and livestock manures. Any biomass can theoretically

be used for biogas or methane production, and many plant species are potential candidate feedstocks, especially those rich in easily biodegradable carbohydrates (EI Bassan, 1998). However, plants with a high lignin content have a low biodegradability and are less suitable (Klass, 1998). Biomass crops are harvested, transported, and subject to pretreatments prior to fermentation (Figure 7.2). Pretreatments may include chopping to reduce the unit size of biomass, ensilage, acid hydrolysis, the addition of cellulase enzymes, or the use of solvents to remove lignin (Gritzali et aI., 1988; Hayes et aI., 1988). Pretreatments help to break down polysaccharides and other com­ pounds into fermentable sugars before digestion. Anaerobic digestion is a multistage process involving a diversity of microorganisms that digest particular plant components (e.g., carbohydrates,

138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
Biomass (e.g., Jerusalem artichoke tops) l Pre-treatments (e.g., chopping, ensilage, acid or enzymatic hydrolysis) l Anaerobic
Biomass
(e.g., Jerusalem artichoke tops)
l
Pre-treatments
(e.g., chopping, ensilage, acid or enzymatic hydrolysis)
l
Anaerobic digestion
(with methanogenic bacteria)
l
Biogas
l

Purified methane

138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup

FIGURE 7.2 Stages in biogas and methane production from Jerusalem artichoke.

Biomass and Biofuel
Biomass and Biofuel

cellulose, and hemicellulose). The most important microorganisms involved are methanogt bacteria, in the kingdom Archaebacteria. Three genera groupings of methanogenic bacteria art particular importance: (1) Methanobacterium and Methanobrevibacter (e.g., Methanobacteri

formicum); (2) Methanococcus (e.g., Methanococcus vannielii); and (3) Methanomicrobium, Me anogenium, Methanospirillum, and several other genera
formicum); (2) Methanococcus (e.g., Methanococcus vannielii); and (3) Methanomicrobium, Me
anogenium, Methanospirillum, and several other genera (e.g., Methanomicrobium mobile). j
methanogenic bacteria are strictly anaerobic (Klass, 1998). Fermentation generally proceeds at J:

6.5 to 8.0 and usually within one of two optimal temperature ranges: a lower range (10 to 42°( favorable to mesophilic bacteria and a higher range (50 to 70°C) favorable to thermophilic bacter. (White and Plaskett, 1981). The biogas produced by anaerobic digestion mainly comprises methane (CH 4 ) and carbOJ dioxide (C0 2 ), For instance, the composition of a typical biogas from a pig manure is 65% methant and 35% carbon dioxide, with a thermal content of 26 MJ·m- 3 (White and Plaskett, 1981). Methant content can range from 40 to 70% in biogas. Thermal values for biogas typically range from 15.7

to 29.5 MJ·m- 3 . In comparison, the energy values of dry natural gas and pure methane are 39.3 MJ·m- 3 (Klass, 1998). For local use (e.g., on-farm heating of greenhouses or poultry sheds) biogas can be used without further processing. However, to obtain methane, for a more valuable and efficient biofuel, the carbon dioxide and minor components can be removed using several gas clean­ up processes, such as alkali scrubbing or scrubbing with pressurized water. As the scale of energy­ generating operations increases, so does the importance of removing carbon dioxide, which can be utilized as a by-product. The composition of minor components present in biogas depends on the type of feedstock deployed. Hydrogen sulfides, for instance. can occur at low levels (e.g., 0.1 %) and lead to problems of corrosion and toxicity if not removed (White and Plaskett, 1981). Plant­ derived feedstocks will generally give rise to fewer troublesome minor biogas' components than biowastes and other types of feedstock. The nutrient-rich digestate remaining after biogas production

138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup

can be fed back into the reactor, or it can be sold as a by-product, either as an animal feed or a crop fertilizer. The cleaned-up methane can be compressed and containerized, or distributed via pipelines. Methane is mainly used to generate heat and electricity. Jerusalem artichoke is a suitable candidate energy crop for biogas production, and it amply

fulfills many of the selection criteria. It has rapid growth and is easy to cultivate, has high energy

and biomass yields with low-input requirements, a tolerance of a wide range of climatic conditions, resistance to pests and diseases, good overwintering ability, and an efficient ,onvertibility to methane. The aerial parts of the crop are usually used, although tubers are also suitable. Nonstruc­

tural carbohydrates in the aerial parts are readily fermented, and the stems can contain large amounts of these carbohydrates. Converting Jerusalem artichoke tops to ,ilage is an effective way of conserving aerial biomass, and enables it to be stored until required on a year-round basis. A number of studies, comparing the production of biogas (and methane purified from biogas) from fresh and ensiled tops, have demonstrated that the two types of feedstock give a similar productivity (Gun­ narson et aI., 1985; Lehtomaki, 2005; Mathisen and Thyselius, 1985; Zubr, 1986). It is better to

138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup

harvest fresh green material for silage than to use material harvested during the stages of senescence (Zubr, 1985). Biogas and methane yields from Jerusalem artichoke, reported in the literature, are summarized in Table 7.2. For instance, the biogas yield from Jerualem artichoke tops after 20 days'

retention time in a digester was 480 to 590 m 3 biogas·,l volatile solids (YS), * which was superior to six other crops (e.g., alfalfa, maize, and sugar beet) tested (EI Bassan, 1998, quoting unpublished data from Weiland, 1997). Feedstock chemical composition is important for biogas production. The low molecular weight sugars, inulin (fructans), hemicellulose, and cellulose present in Jerusalem artichoke are all digested in biogas fermentation. The highest proportions of most digestible components for the tops are found in the stem, and the inclusion of a high proportion of stems is therefore desirable for biogas production (Malmberg and Theander, 1986). Moreover, high levels of nitrogen in the substrate

138 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. that can be stored as syrup
sample Ihm i, losl by igniliun uf lhl' UI") ,uJiu, Jl WO°c.
sample Ihm i,
losl by
igniliun uf lhl' UI")
,uJiu, Jl WO°c.

• The quantity of solids in a

ulOIOgy ana Lhemlstry ot Jerusalem Artichoke: HelFanth·us tuberosus l. Biomass and Biofuel 141 TABLE 7.2 .
ulOIOgy ana Lhemlstry ot Jerusalem Artichoke: HelFanth·us tuberosus l.
Biomass and Biofuel
141
TABLE 7.2
.
Biogas and Methane Yields from Jerusalem Artichoke
Methane
Biogas
Methane
Biogas
per Wet Wt.
per Area
per Area
Plant Part
(I·kg-' VS)'
(I·kg-' VS)'
(m'·ha-')
(m'·ha-')
Reference
Tops'
-
93 m'·t
-
3, J 00-5,400
Tops
480-680
-
5,500
2,800
Ensiled tops
468
315
-
-
Tubers
595
4J 1
-
-
Tops
296
189
-
-
Ensiled tops
331
229
-
Tops
480-600
-
-
-
Ensiled
tops
500-680
250-320
-
-
Tops
480-590 m'· t
-
-
-
Lehtomaki, 2005
Gunnarson et aI., 1985
Zubr, 1985
Zubr, 1988
Zubr, 1988
Zubr, J988
Mathisen and Thyselius, J985
Mathisen and Thyselius, 1985
EI Bassan, J998
, Unless otherwise noted.
h Freshly harvested aerial parts (stem and leaves) unless otherwise stated.
are detrimental to biogas produclion, with nitrogen levels highest in the leaves of Jerusalem arti­
choke (Malmberg and Theander, 1986; Mathisen and Thyselius, 1985; Somda et al., 1999). Inulin
hydrolysis is the rate-limiting step when using Jerusalem artichoke as a substrate in anaerobic
digestion reactors.' :.
Farm-scale biogas plants have been operaiing in Germany since 2000, and pilot plants are now
being established worldwide. Energy crops are often used as a co-substrate with industrial and
household biowas'tes and animal manures. Mixtures of ensiled plant biomass with cow or pig
manures have been shown to produce high biogas yields (e.g., 350 to 540 ].kg-I VS), with a mixture
containing 70% silage giving the best biogas yields in one study (Mathisen and Thyselius, 1985).
The anaerobic digestion of energy crops represents a renewable domestic energy source, which is
amenable to decentralized farm-scale energy production in areas close to crop production. Plant
biomass can be produced on set-,aside land in crop rotations, or it can utilize crop overproduction
and crop residues, creating new business opportunities in rural areas (Lehtomak.i., 2005).
In a pilot anaerobic digestion system in Finland, the potential methane yields from Jerusalem
artichoke were among the highest of a range of energy crops assessed, including timothy grass
(Phleum pratense L.), lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus Lind!.), reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea
L.), and nettle (Urtica dioica L.). Jerusalem artichoke had a methane production potential of 0.37
m 3 CH 4 ·kg organic matter and 93 m 3 CH 4 ·t wet weight. In trials, Jerusalem artichoke yielded an
annual 9 to 16 t dm·ha" and 3,100 to 5,400 m 3 CH 4 ·ha- ' , equivalent to an annual gross energy
potential of 30 to 50 MWh·ha- 1 energy or 38,000 to 68,000 km·ha-! of passenger car transport
(Lehtomaki, 2005, 2006; Lehtomiiki and Bj¢msson, 2006). For the crops with the highest methane
poteritials per hectare in Finland (Jerusalem artichoke, timothy grass, and reed canary grass) a
hectare could potentially fuel one to three passenger cars (traveling an average distance of 20,000
to 30,000 km) for a year. Therefore, if the 2004 area of agricultural set-aside land in Finland had
been used to produce biogas from energy crops, the methane could have potentially fueled 8 to
25% of the country's passenger cars (Lehtomak.i., 2006).
Jerusalem artichoke had a similar methane production potential for repeated cuttings in the
Finnish trials, whereas other leafy energy crops assessed, such as giant knotweed (ReynoUfria
sachalinensis F. Schmidt ex Maxim.) and sugar beet tops (Bela vulgaris L.), had methane potentials
that increased at later harvests. Lignin levels were also unusually constant for the tops of Jerusalem
artichoke, regardless of maturity, while nonstructural carbohydrates (fructans) increased in the stems
until mid-October. Therefore, the crop can be harvested late into the season without jeopardizing
the efficiency of anaerobic digestion (Lehtomiiki, 2006).
Zubr (1985) investigated the potential of 33 different raw materials, including silage from
Jerusalem artichoke tops, for biogas production in Denmark. Anaerobic digestion was carried out
under mesophilic' conditions (35°C), using a series of batch system fermentation reactors. The
production of biogas was registered daily. Retention times ranged from 26 to 82 days, depending
on the material, with optimal retention time for Jerusalem artichoke being around 33 days. Jerusalem
artichoke silage comprised 17.1 % total solids (TS) and 15.4% volatile solids (VS), with 81.7% of
VS being .microbiologically decomposable. In general, the ratio vsrrs is a measure of organic
matter content, which was found to be relatively high in Jerusalem artichoke silage. The silage
contained 31.9% crude fiber, an indication of the presence of lignin. High levels of lignin lower
the ability of microbes to decompose 'raw materials, with crude fiber varying between 44.2% (wheat
straw) and 12.3% (sugar beet tops) for the material tested. Carbon and nitrogen in the silage were
42.0 and 2.48% of TS, with a CIN ratio of 17. Sulfur comprised 0.13% of TS, indicating that
pollution of biogas by sulfur-containing contaminants is .relatively unlikely using Jerusalem arti­
choke silage. The silage yielded 421 I·kg- l TS, 468 I biogas·kg- l VS, and 315 1 methane·kg- I VS,
with the biogas comprising on average 67.4% methane (Zubr, 1985).
In Sweden, research to assess the potential of the aerial parts (stems and foliage) of Jerusalem
artichoke as a feedstock for biogas production has been conducted at the Swedish University of
Agriculture. Yields of aerial parts up to 20 t·ha'! dry matter can be obtained in Sweden, where
plants do not flower and instead produce strong vegetative growth (Wiinsche, 1985). Gunnarson et
ai. (1985) found that the aerial dry matter yields for three clones ('Topinanca,' 'Variety No. 1927:
and 'Variety No. 1168: the iatter a hybrid of Jerusalem artichoke and sunflower) varied between
7 and 16 t·ha'l. 'Topinanca' had the highest dry matter content. Biomass digestion experiments
were performed at mesophilic (37°C) conditions on a laboratory scale (Gunnarson et aI., 1985;
Mathisen and Thyselius, 1985). Biogas production was approximately equal with fresh and ensiled
biomass, with a pH of around 7.5 in the digester in both cases. Fresh and ensiled material yielded
480 to 680 I biogas·kg- ' of organic material; the methane content of the biogas obtained was
between 52 and 55%. The chemical composition of silage was determined before and after digestion
for the production of biogas. The lignin part remained mostly unchanged, although cellulose,
hemicellulose carbohydrates, and other extractable substances were much reduced after anaerobic
digestion, with non structural carbohydrates (fructans) completely digested (Gunnarson et aI., 1985).
The authors concluded that under Swedish conditions it should be possible to obtain yields of
around 5,500 m 3 biogas·ha" for Jerusalem artichoke. Given a methane concentration of 52%, the
yield would be 2,800 m 3 methane·ha". The economics of biogas production are considered in
Chapter 14.1.
Using the Swedish laboratory digester, Mathisen and Thyselius (1985) reported biogas yields
from batch and semicontinuous digestion of fresh and ensiled Jerusalem artichoke tops. Batch
digestion experiments were used to determine the highest possible yields from a range of energy
crops, with substrate added in daily portions over a 3- to 4-week period. In batch digestion
experiments, freshly.chopped tops yielded 540 I·kg" VS after 1 week, 90% of the final value of
600 I·kg- ' VS. In two trials, ensiled tops yielded 470 and 510 I·kg- I VS after 1 week, 72 and 76%
of the final values of 660 and 680 I·kg- ' VS, respectively. The digestion rate for Jerusalem artichoke
was a little slower than for fresh alfalfa (Medicago saliva L.), kale (Brassica oleracea L.), and
grass (Poa spp.), but faster than for the woody biomass used: birch (Betula sp.) and sallow (Salix
sp.). In the semicontinuous digestion experiments, chopped fresh material yielded 480 to 590 l·kg- I
VS (80 to 98% of final yield in batch experiments), while ensiled tops yielded 510 to 560 I·kg"
VS (78 to 86% of final yield in batch experiments). The methane content of the biogas obtained
from fresh and ensiled tops of Jerusalem artichoke under semi continuous digestion was 50 to 55%,
with organic loads of between 2.2 and 3.0 g VS·I-'·day-I and a hydraulic retention time of bctwccn
43 and 59 days. The digestion of fresh material and silage was found to be a stable process, without
  • 142 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus l.

143

142 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus l. 143 the need for pH adjustment.
the need for pH adjustment. Fresh and ensiled material gave similar biogas yields with both batch
the need for pH adjustment. Fresh and ensiled material gave similar biogas yields with both batch
'tl:
and continuous digestion, which were among the highest of a range of crops and woody biomass
.
~
tested. Although biogas production can proceed effectively via batch, sernicontinuous, or continuous
..~:.
digestion, El Bassan (1998) suggested that production on a continuous long-term basis, using a'
}.
homogeneous substrate, was the most cost-effective
option.
.' " ..
The
residue or sludge left after the pulp of Jerusalem artichoke tubers has b~~p ferrnentedand
:~:
distilled
to produce ethanol can be used to make biogas (methane). Tuber residue gave higher yfelds
ofbiogas (595 ].kg-I volatile solids) than fresh tops (2961·kg- 1 ) or ensiled tops (3311·kg- l ) (Zubr,
1988). Zubr concluded thai using the tuber residue for further energy-production was feasible, with
.<
yields ofbiogas being relatively high in comparison to other plant biomass materials. The combined
_.
exploitation of Jerusalem artichoke for bioethanol and methane yielded a gross energy of 159
GJ·ha- 1 , corresponding to 4,500 I oil equivalents (EO)·ha-l·year ' (Zubr, 1988). However, the tops
from Jerusalem artichoke did not appear particularly suitable for biogas production in this study,
.mairiJ.y because of tlie long retention time needed and the larg~ amount of solid fe~entationresidue .
produced (Zubr, 1988).
J.
Zubr (1988) analyzed the costs of producing Jerusalem artichoke for biofuel (ethanol and
biogas) in Denmark. The total production costs, which included soil preparation, fertilizer,' seed
tuber purchase, cultivation, harvesting, and transport, were calculated as 8,843 DKr·ha- ' . Seed
tubers and fertilizer were the main expenses: with the total cost of raw materials accounting for
around 50% of the production costs of ethanol. The study concluded that biofuels from Jerusalem
artichoke were not competitive with fossil fuels in the market of 1988. However, the circumstances
at the start of the 21st century are changing. A growing awareness of environmental problems
linked to the buriiing of fossil fuels has, resulted in subsidies, tax incentives, and regulations that
favor renewable energy sources. Meanw.hile, any steep rises in the price of gasoline will make plant
biomass sources, such as Jerusalem artichoke, more competitive in relation to gasoline.
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142 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus l. 143 the need for pH adjustment.
142 Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus l. 143 the need for pH adjustment.
7, .'" . --:
7, .'"
. --:

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