University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign scientists say a hybrid grass that can grow 13 feet high may become a renewable source of fuel in the future.

Stephen Long, a professor of crop sciences and biology, and doctoral students Emily Heaton and Frank Dohleman said the dry and leafless Giant Miscanthus stems might be used as solid fuel.

Forty percent of U.S. energy is used as electricity, Heaton said. The easiest way to get electricity is using a solid fuel, such as coal.

The cool weather-friendly perennial grass is sometimes referred to as elephant grass or E-grass.

Rhizomatous grasses such as Miscanthus are very clean fuels, said Dohleman.

The researchers said the grass produces a very efficient fuel, with an energy ratio of input to output less than 0.2. In contrast, the ratios exceed 0.8 for ethanol and biodiesel from canola, which are other plant-derived energy sources.

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