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Engineers & technologists contribute significantly
in our social development, economic progress, and enhancement of social and physical
infrastructure. Industry in general and manufacturing in particular are facing unprecedented
challenges due to globalization. Consequently, the business environment of manufacturing
enterprises is facing increasing complexity. The engineering graduates and researchers
with the ability to understand the technological complexities, the creative arts
and skills are increasingly sought after by industrial and business world. Team-based
activities are of great importance for students to learn and tackle and solve the
complex global issues at later life. Self study and own initiatives of engineering
students at learning stage enable and sharpen them to emerge out as highly acceptable
engineers. The Washington Accord which emphasizes on outcome based learning is gaining
increasing acceptance among many countries.
Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) is a warm-season annual. Kenaf fibers are commonly used for paper pulp and cordage, but it is also a promising lignocellulosic feedstock for bioenergy production, although optimum plant density for biomass production has not been determined for the northern region of the USA. The objective of this study was to determine the best plant density and row spacing of kenaf to maximize biomass yield and chemical composition for biofuel conversion. The experiments were conducted at Fargo and Prosper, ND, in 2010 and 2011. The experiment was a randomized complete block design with a split-plot arrangement where the main plot was tworowspacings (30 and60 cm) and the sub-plot fourplant densities (32, 16, 8, and 4 plants·m-2). Row spacing had a significant effect on both biomass and biofuel yield. Narrower rows had higher biomass and biofuel yield. Maximum biomass and estimated biofuel yield was obtained with the two highest plant densities of 16 and 32 plants·m-2 and fluctuated between 9.45 and 10.22 Mg·ha-1 and 1354 and1464 L·ha-1, respectively. Stem diameter increased with a decrease in plant density. Chemical composition varied with plant density; glucan (27%) and xylan (9.8%) content were lower at the lowest plant density. Ash content was not different among plant densities but it is interesting to mention the very low ash content of kenaf (0.15%). According to the results of this study, it is recommended to plant kenaf at 30-cm rows with a plant density of 16 to 32 plants·m-2 to maximize biomass yield. Kenaf has a tremendous potential as a cellulosic feedstock for biofuel and green chemicals in the Northern Great Plains because of high biomass yield and low ash content.