This is a subject close to me – my Ph.D. research is focused on the potential of this resource as a bioenergy feedstock. What is it? Rice straw – what is left after collecting the rice grain from a crop.
Largely ignored in the US because we don’t grow alot of rice, this is a MAJOR crop for most of Asia, Brazil and other countries and South America, and increasing, Africa.
Unlike in the US, there is not so much focus on liquid fuels for transportation (cars). co-firing biomass for electricity generation offers a great avenue to tap this underutilized resource.
A fellow bioenergy blog that I follow describes this resource and some issues in a recent post here:
Some of the things that I’m studying are the ash composition and how this may be regulated by different versions of genes that different varieties of rice have, and if we can significantly change this through breeding or bioengineering.
In China, which grows the most rice of any country in the world, a company is trying to convert the rice straw into pulp (to make paper):