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Advanced Biomass Tree Crop Technology
Phone: (517) 803-9418
Phone: (517) 803-9418
Phone: (517) 884-4275
Type: Nonprofit College or University
International demand for wood has grown steadily in the past few decades due to the growth in the world’s population and is expected to continue to grow rapidly as policies promoting greater use of renewable energy are adopted globally. Providing over 9% of the global primary energy supply, wood energy is as important as other renewable energy sources. Due to wood’s potential for large-scale commercial production of cellulosic biofuels, such as ethanol, a rapid increase in the use of wood as a source of energy is expected as policies promoting greater use of renewable, non-fossil fuel energy are adopted globally. In order to achieve the productivity gains necessary for wood-based bioenergy applications to be sustainable both economically and environmentally, significant breakthroughs in the productivity of the feedstock tree crops are needed. The applicant adapts the powerful tool of genetic engineering, specifically the gene/trait-stacking approach for use in the development of advanced biomass tree crop technology that features both accelerated stem growth and increased wood density. The proposed technology will produce a consistent supply of woody biomass feedstock that can be grown cost effectively on a 2- or 3-year cycle in dedicated plantations on otherwise nonproductive secondary agriculture land not suitable for food crops. During the Phase I STTR project, the applicant will (1) develop and produce enough transgenic poplar trees expressing the proposed technology to conduct a field test, (2) establish a field test with the transgenic trees, and (3) obtain initial in-field performance. This Phase I project prepares for the in-depth analysis (i.e., chemical composition, heat value of the biomass, and growth rate) and demonstration of the commercial value of this technology in Phase II. This in-field validation of the technology is a required step toward commercial deployment of the technology. Securing a cost-effective feedstock supply is a major limiting factor in bioenergy production. The applicant will use an innovative and propriety technology to speed the introduction of genetically designed crops for economic and sustainable production of woody biomass feedstock with reduced environmental impact for production of bioenergy and bio-based materials.
Commercial Applications and Benefits: This application directly responds to the growing demand for woody biomass by developing economically and environmentally sustainable production systems. The proposed technology supplies a highly significant yield boost in both quantity and quality of woody biomass in short rotation poplar, thus enabling lower land use for production and cutting input cost. Additionally, commercial deployment of the proposed technology offers a number of social and economic benefits including cost-competitive production of bioenergy feedstock from non-food crops, thereby reducing impacts on both food prices and access, reducing dependence on foreign oil and the associated environmental impact of its use, increasing energy supply diversity, and strengthening rural economies. This STTR project will enable the proposed technology to enter the biomass feedstock markets and contribute toward a widespread sustainable US bioenergy industry.
* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *