George Newcombe, CNR forest pathology professor, collects data among the cottonwoods along the lower Columbia River.
A soil respiration monitor used to measure soil carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.
Poplar coppice system being harvested by Case New Holland tractor with cutting head.
Two $40 Million Grants Fuel Collaborative, Renewable Energy Research in Northwest
The University of Idaho is a partner with the University of Washington and Washington State University in two USDA grants totaling $80 million. The grants support biofuels research and will help create science literacy in the next generation of energy leaders. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the awards at a Sept. 28 press conference at the Sea-tac Airport. U-Idaho will receive approximately $4 million.
The WSU-led grant involves the University of Idaho Colleges of Natural Resources and Art and Architecture, which will collaborate with the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) to address the urgent national need for a domestic biofuel alternative for U.S. commercial and military air fleets. Four different teams conducting research on feedstocks, conversion, systems metrics and education and outreach.
The UW-led project will focus on the commercial production of bio-based aviation, diesel and gasoline using plantation-grown poplars as feedstock for the next generation of biofuels.
NARA researchers envision developing a new, viable, aviation fuel industry using wood and wood waste in the Pacific Northwest, where forests cover almost half of the region. The project also will focus on increasing the profitability of wood-based fuels through development of high-value, bio-based co-products to replace petrochemicals that are used in products such as plastics. More information about NARA, its work and its partners is available at www.nararenewables.org
WSU/U-Idaho projects include:
- The McCall Outdoor Science School will target biofuels education in K-12, undergraduate and graduate programs and provide workshops for teachers and science professionals throughout, Pacific Northwest communities and non-profit organizations.
- MOSS will partner with Facing the Future, a non-profit sustainable education group, to deliver web-based K-12 curriculum and training to over 25,000 teachers and over one million students.
- The U-Idaho graduate program in bioregional planning will develop integrated design studio experiences that provide students opportunity to work with communities to help them find ways to engage in the new biofuel economy.
UW/U-Idaho projects include:
- Commercial production of bio-based aviation, diesel and gasoline using plantation-grown poplars as feedstock for the next generation of biofuels.
- Evaluating the environmental impact of poplar plantations, which are arranged in closely spaced rows designed for harvesting equipment that cuts and chips the pole-sized stems every few years. Resprouting from the cut stem extends the frequency of replanting and tilling to approximately every 25 years.
- U-Idaho will determine the ability of these plantations to improve soil quality and retain nutrients and sediments and measure the amount of atmospheric carbon trapped in the soils by the growth and recycling of poplar leaves and roots. This information is needed to assess the effects of the production system on the carbon cycle.
- Collaborative graduate education will occur through the UW's National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program, which is focused on bioresource-based energy. During the five year project, the group aims to train 50 graduate students. The program also has a strong collaboration with Columbia River Basin tribes.