Someday trees could provide more than just shade, scenery and building materials. Purdue University researchers are studying how poplars might be turned into liquid fuel.
In May a team of researchers led by Rick Meilan, associate professor of forestry and natural resources, began a five-year study to determine the viability of poplar species as an ethanol feedstock and cash crop for Indiana farmers. The study includes trial plots at Pinney-Purdue Agricultural Center east of Valparaiso and Southwest-Purdue Agricultural Center just north of Vincennes.
Findings from the research could help propel the fledgling cellulosic ethanol industry, Meilan said.
“For biofuel production we’re principally using the sugars in corn that are fermented to produce alcohol that’s then blended with petroleum products,” he said. “What we’d like to do is use cellulosic feedstocks, including not just corn stover but also wood chips.”
Cellulose is considered the next frontier in ethanol production. The process involves extracting sugars from the cell walls of plant material, or what is commonly known as biomass.… Continue readingRead More »