Michigan State's Big Biomass Secret
I recently received an email from a gentleman named Patrick about an upcoming Woody Biomass Field Day at Michigan State University’s Forest Biomass Innovation Center, which is happening Aug. 21 in Escanaba, Mich. Pat described the center as an amazing facility, and said it was perhaps a best-kept secret, as he has not seen it much in the news. I think he must be right, as I couldn’t recall writing or hearing about it, and I’m always nosing around for news on anything biomass.
Previously known as the Upper Peninsula Tree Improvement Center, the 1,700-acre facility was a center for traditional activities such as fiber farming research, silviculture, forest genetics and wetland research. It was renamed in in early 2010 to emphasize the evolving focus of research there: the bioeconomy and the production of renewable fuels from short-rotation woody crops grown on marginal farm land in the northern parts of the state. Goals of this work include increasing yields, decreasing costs, reducing greenhouse gas and energy losses, retaining rural jobs, and improving supply chain efficiencies.
Pat said he has some hybrid aspen material that’s represented at the FBIC site, and added that he likes this research center because it has considerable representation of the “Big Three” woody biomass contenders—traditional hybrid poplars, willow and aspen.
At the FBIC field day, speakers will deliver presentations about various aspects of MSU wood energy research and programs, and the bulk of the afternoon will tour some of the numerous research trials. It’s supposed to be a good opportunity for people to see what’s been done to date, and gain a better idea of the possibilities associated with growing woody biomass for a range of potential energy applications.
There is no cost for attending, but advanced registration is required—email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And on that note, I’ll leave you with an interesting fact produced by the FBIC: the amount of forest in Michigan has increased every single year for the last 50 years.
In other words, their bioeconomy is growing…and so is the resource that fuels it.