Modification of the Composite and Quality of Hybrid Poplar Biomass in the Pacific Northwest
73021B03-I There is a pressing need for the development of renewable energy sources in the Pacific Northwest. Hybrid poplar plantations have been developed extensively in the region for the pulp and paper, veneer, furniture, and environmental-remediation industries, and can be expanded further to provide renewable raw materials for the biofuels and bioproducts industries. The availability of new hybrid varieties, tailored specifically for the biofuels and bioproducts industries, is an absolute requirement for future investment, development, and efficient operation of plantations managed for renewable energy resources. In this project, a pool of elite hybrid varieties (Populus generosa), developed for superior agronomic characteristics, will be tested for their suitability for the biofuels and bioproducts industries. In Phase I, elite varieties will be propagated under controlled conditions to produce experimental plant material. Analysis techniques, specific to the characterization of biomass composition, will be refined for screening parental breeding stock of eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) and black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa). A market analysis of the nursery industry¿s need for ongoing varietal development will be completed. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by awardee: Superior poplar varieties capable of sustained production of 22.4 bone dry biomass tons per hectare per year, with improved biomass quality, should become available to the commercial nursery industry. An expansion of commercial poplar plantations in support of the energy industry would contribute much to the Pacific Northwest region. Additionally, poplar biomass feedstock is a carbon-neutral source of energy, the combustion of which is compatible with greenhouse gas concerns.
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