Test burn on grass for fuel program raises issues

Aug 26, 2013

Credit Wes Agresta / Argonne National Laboratory

A project to use a giant grass for a biofuel is back on the drawing board after several problems arose during a test burn.

The grass, which is being grown in three regions in Missouri and Arkansas, is part of a federal program with MFA Oil to create a biofuel at Columbia's municipal power plant.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported Sunday that a test last October didn't go well. Some of the grass pellets disintegrated and often burned too quickly.

In 2011, a subsidiary of MFA Oil received $14.6 million in federal funding under the Biomass Crop Assistance Program to pay farmers to grow the grass.

MFA Oil attributed the problems to Columbia's older power plant technology and equipment. More tests are planned.