Diversifying Feedstock Options Reduces Risk
by Jennifer Shike (University of Illinois) Researchers are studying novel and traditional woody plants as short rotation crops for biomass production to help diversify and expand bioenergy research efforts at the University of Illinois.
“Diversification of your plant materials for biomass production is sound from an ecological standpoint — a greater diversity of species minimizes the risk from serious disease or insect outbreaks that could threaten a large percentage of production when only a few species are utilized,” said Gary Kling, an associate professor in the Department of Crop Sciences, at the 2011 Bioenergy Feedstocks Symposium at the I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign last week.
Kling said there is a wealth of ecological niches and climatic zones where biomass may be produced someday, and likely a wide range of species that will be best adapted to these varying environments.
…Kling and a team of researchers from the Energy Biosciences Institute located in the Institute for Genomic Biology at the U of I selected plants for this study based on their coppicing ability, adaptability to the environment, potential for biomass accumulation, non-invasive status, few major limiting pest and disease problems, availability and inclusion in the USDA database.
…The plants chosen for the study include red maple, silver maple, thinleaf alder, river birch, hybrid chestnut, northern catalpa, common hackberry, bloodtwig dogwood, American filbert, American smoketree, possumhaw, American sweetgum, tuliptree, osage-orange, sycamore, eastern cottonwood, black cherry, scarlet oak, flameleaf sumac, black locust, and sherburne willow. READ MORE