Biomass & Bioenergy, Vol.81, 483-489, 2015
Sickle bush (Dichrostachys cinerea L.) field performance and physical chemical property assessment for energy purposes
The sickle bush (Dichrostachys cinerea (L.) Wight & Arm) comprises a woody legume shrub which is widely distributed throughout of the tropical areas of Africa, Asia and Oceania, being found as well in Cuba where it represents a difficult to control invasive plant. It holds great silvopasture and energy crop potentials. In southwestern Spain a two year field trial was conducted contemplating also another six hardwood taxa commonly used as energy crops. The sickle bush above ground dry biomass fraction was 60.4%; sickle bush displayed a high transpiration rate during hot days (3.02 kg m(-2) d(-1) to 6.82 kg m(-2) d(-1)); cold winter temperatures (<-2 degrees C) together with hot and dry summer air (<20% relative humidity) committed survival and growth. The physical-chemical wood properties and the pellets thereof derived were analyzed and compared to those of the other energy crop taxa. The within other woody species normal chemical composition range coupled to a high wood density and energetic use properties (19.2 MJ kg(-1) higher heating value, 29 g kg(-1) ash content) all allow for an industrial use. Pellets evidenced also good physical and mechanical properties (690 kg m(-3) bulk density, 42 g kg(-1) moisture content). However, the mechanical durability (93.9%) was slightly less than that required by the non-industrial use standards, therefore further improvements should be studied. All of the above could encourage scrubland cuts in Cuba as a mechanical control method, in addition to the expansion of plantations within of their tropical climate based natural habitats. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.