One of the highlights of the international biomass energy conference held in Mexico City on October 7th was a leafy green plant of which most people have never even heard of. The plant is called Giant King Grass (GKG), and its remarkable properties make it a potential solution to the search for clean renewable energy.

In a recently released summary of a presentation given by Dr. Carl Kukkonen, CEO of VIASPACE, Inc. (VSPC.OB), GKG was shown to be one of the best potential biomass energy resources on the planet, with a range of other applications as well.

If anyone should know about GKG, it’s Carl Kukkonen, and his enthusiasm carries a lot of weight. Holding his PhD in Physics from Cornell, Dr. Kukkonen spent a number of years at Caltech as Director of the Center for Space Microelectronics Technology and Manager of Supercomputing at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In 1992, he was awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal. He went on to be one of the co-founders of VIASPACE, Inc., a leading renewable energy company.

Dr. Kukkonen emphasized the importance of GKG as a renewable, low carbon, energy crop for use as a fast-growing biomass resource. The use of food crops, such as corn and soybeans, to produce ethanol continues to raise concerns that it could contribute to world hunger by creating an economic competitor for the crops. Other biomass sources, like agricultural and forestry waste, tend to vary in quality, and are insufficient for large-scale energy requirements.

What is needed, according to Dr. Kukkonen, are specialized crops, chosen and cultivated specifically for the energy market. Such a crop must be fast-growing, high in yield, and make efficient use of marginal land not suitable for food production. It also needs to be cost effective and help reduce carbon emissions.

Dr. Kukkonen pointed out that GKG has the highest per-acre yield of all known energy crops, and its growing characteristics make it suitable for large-scale long-term farming. Independent testing has confirmed its energy value, and it is also carbon neutral (meaning that the CO2 emitted when burned is offset by the absorption of CO2 during its growth).

In fact, VIASPACE is now actively growing GKG as a dedicated energy crop and is developing business relationships with electric power providers and other bio-fuel producers. There’s good reason for Dr. Kukkonen to be excited about GKG and what it could mean for VIASPACE. Not only can GKG be processed directly for use in biomass power plants, it can be turned into pellets, potentially replacing up to 20% of coal in existing coal power plants.

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