Study to Measure Biofuels’ Impact on Climate from the Field to the Power Plant
by Scott Miller (Clemson University) Clemson University scientists have received a federal grant to evaluate the effectiveness of producing biofuels to mitigate climate change.
Quantifying the net impact that growing biomass feedstock for biofuel has on local temperature and carbon sequestration can aid the development of effective land-use policies and is the key of a new research project led by Clemson University scientist Thomas O’Halloran.
“If we incentivize the Southeast to plant switchgrass instead of loblolly pine, for example, how would that affect local climate? This study will give us some answers,” said O’Halloran, assistant professor of forestry and environmental conservation at Clemson’s Belle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science in Georgetown. “Biofuels are about reducing fossil fuel use in the interest of benefitting the climate, so this research is about getting a holistic view on whether this is actually beneficial to the environment.”
O’Halloran received a $147,744, two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to analyze how switchgrass fields and loblolly pine forests affect local temperatures through the exchange of water, energy, radiation and carbon with the atmosphere. He’ll also quantify below- and above-ground carbon fluxes in both loblolly pine and switchgrass plantations and assess the greenhouse gas emissions of the full biofuel production chain for each crop. This will provide a comparative picture of the potential of these feedstocks to reduce carbon emissions when generating electricity by co-firing in a coal power plant. For this, O’Halloran will collaborate with Pragnya L. Eranki, deputy director of research for the Institute for Sustainability in Clemson’s Glenn Department of Civil Engineering. READ MORE
Study to measure impact of biofuels on climate (Biomass Magazine)