The viability of biofuel production on urban marginal land: An analysis of metal contaminants and energy balance for pittsburgh's sunflower gardens

Xi Zhao, Jason D. Monnell, Briana Niblick, Christopher D. Rovensky, Amy E. Landis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

After three years' monitoring of the concentration of Al, Fe, Zn, Ni, Pb, As, Cd, Cr and Se in soil, Fe, Pb and As in Pittsburgh's vacant lots were found sometimes to exceed the residential maximum soil contaminant concentrations set by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Heavy metal uptake by sunflowers was insignificant at the soil metal concentrations observed in Pittsburgh, indicating that sunflowers produced on marginal urban land could be a safe biofuel feedstock. However, there was a risk that sunflowers grown on more contaminated spoils could be unsafe. Calculations of the energy balance of the total biofuel production system suggested that lots in Pittsburgh of over 0.2. ha would be able to produce an energy gain, particularly if community volunteers were involved in the process. Using marginal urban land for biofuel production can be a worthwhile strategy to replace costly traditional vacant lot management methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-33
Number of pages12
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Volume124
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2014

Keywords

  • Balance
  • Biofuel
  • Energy
  • Soil contamination
  • Sunflower
  • Urban agriculture
  • Urban vacant lot management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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