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Woody Biomass Programs and Projects

NIFA supports a variety of woody biomass utilization programs and projects. Below are highlights of some of these programs:

Genomic Knowledge Base for Facilitating the Use of Woody Biomass for Fuel Ethanol Production - North Carolina State University. This 3-year project examines, at the genome level, gene expression and regulation of lignocellulosic formation in targeted energy trees to help determine genes that may enable effective manipulation of lignocellulosic traits to facilitate ethanol production. Contact: Vincent Chiang, 919-513-0098

Wood Biomass as an Alternative Farm Product - State University of New York. This project facilitates the commercialization of willow as a locally grown, renewable feedstock for bioenergy and bioproducts in the Northeast and Midwest. Cooperative Extension and its many federal, state, and local partners, in conjunction with private landowners, are developing energy education and outreach programs to assist small landowners. Fifteen demonstration sites for various willow uses have already been established and 30 schools in the central New York region are utilizing energy education curriculum. Contact: Larry Abrahamson, 315-470-6777, or visit the Biomass Web page.

Development and Evaluation of Equipment for the Production and Harvesting of Biomass - Cornell University. The collection of woody debris and harvesting waste is one of the many economic hindrances to woody biomass utilization. Cornell is exploring changes to harvesting strategies and equipment as it seeks to improve harvester efficiency and reduce the production costs of woody bioenergy by 10 to 20 percent. Contact: Michael Hoffmann, 607-255-2224

Appropriate Technology Biomass Collection Systems for Smallwood Utilization - Forest Concepts, LLC. This Small Business Innovation Research grant synthesized optimal biomass collection and handling systems for lands of 20 acres or less. Through bundling, towing, bailing, and chipping, systems were improved to deliver residual woody biomass from disposal to value-added and energy uses. Contact: Jim Dooley, 253-838-4759, or visit the Forest Concepts Web site.

Ecology, Management, and Utilization of Woody Plants in Rangeland Ecosystems - Texas A&M University. This program focused on developing sustainable technologies to reduce woody plant encroachment on rangelands using a biomass-to-energy strategy. Scientists discovered mesquite along the rangeland interface could produce up to 200 gallons of ethanol per ton. In denser stands, mesquite may produce 8 to 10 tons of wood per acre. Applied strategies will promote biomass utilization and enhance rangelands simultaneously. Contact: Jim Ansley, 940-552-9941, or visit the Rangeland Shrub Research Web page.

Analysis and Enhancement of the Chemical and Physical Properties of Bio-Oil - Mississippi State University. The high-temperature rapid pyrolysis of woody biomass produces viscous mixtures of organic compounds know as bio-oil. Bio-oil has potential use as the source of selected chemicals and fuel. This program examines pathways to increase better utilization of woody biomass as a source for high-market bio-oil. Contact: Liam Leightley, 662-325-2119

Bioenergy: Optimum Incentives and Sustainability of Non-Industrial Private Forests in the U.S. South - University of Florida, University of Arkansas, and Virginia Tech University. This multi-institutional program seeks to determine the optimum mix of policy approaches to bridge sustainable forest management and woody energy. It integrates non-industrial landowners' willingness to enter into sustained biomass production through land-use and forest management practices and incentives, as well as understanding the values households place on bioenergy production and the effects of bioenergy policy instruments on private landowners' decisions. Contact: Janaki Alavalapati, 352-846-0899

Sustainable Forestry for Bioenergy and Bio-based Products - Southern Forest Research Partnership. Under the guidance of the Southern Forest Research Partnership, four university extension services, the Southern Regional Extension Forester, and the U.S. Forest Service-Southern Research Station are developing extension and training programs that focus on forest biomass growth, harvest, transport, and processing in accordance with environmental values and rural economic development needs and opportunities. Contact: Larry Biles, 706-542-3098

New Crops Opportunity - University of Alaska Fairbanks. Partners at the University of Alaska recognized the need to create new and value-added products from forest and agricultural crops to maintain the state's economic diversity. The project examines the potential for ethanol as an alternative fuel from dwarf boreal forest trees and shrubs. Contact: Edmond Packee, 907-474-5070 

NIFA supports the diverse research, education, and extension opportunities at the 106 land-grant colleges and universities, as well as work done by:

  • The Federal Woody Biomass Utilization Group, chartered by the Federal Biomass Board;
  • The University of California Woody Biomass Utilization Group;
  • The Fuels for Schools Program;
  • The University of Georgia 's Biorefinery and Carbon Cycling Center ;
  • The Delaware Bioenergy Consortium;
  • The Southern Alliance for the Utilization of Biomass Resources;
  • The Mississippi Biomass Council, and;
  • The Sun Grant Initiative.


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