Next Biofuel Source: Willow
Tuesday, August 07, 2012
Shrub Willow (photo-Cornell University)
Corn and sugarcane could have competition in the growing industry of biofuels, now that the federal government has decided to fund research into willow plants.
A $1.37 million grant from the Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture will assist researchers at Cornell University developing a genetically modified shrub willow.
The plant is said to have great potential as a cash crop for biofuel production. Shrub willows don’t require as much high-quality soil, fertilizer and other resources like corn and sugarcane do to grow in abundance. And corn and sugarcane, which are used as sources of ethanol, are also food crops, whereas shrub willows are not.
“Willow represents an important bioenergy crop for the Northeast,” Christopher Town, of the J. Craig Venter Institute and co-recipient of the grant, told the American Agriculturist. “The hybrids that are being developed by Cornell have the potential to provide higher yields of more suitable biomass and with more efficient use of resources such as water.”
New York State could benefit from the development of willow as a biofuels crop. Experts say the state has more than one million acres of land that could facilitate such a crop.
To Learn More:
Cornell Gets $1.37 Million Grant To Develop Bioenergy Willows (by John Vogel, American Agriculturist)
Farm-to-furnace Sector Heating Up (By Kara Lynn Dunn, American Agriculturist) (pdf)
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