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University Research into Alternative Energy

Decades of tree and biomass research jointly conducted by Florida Statue University and Shell Energy have resulted in the planting of the largest single “Energy Crop Plantation” in the entire United States. This Plantation spans approximately 130 acres and is home to over 250,000 planted trees including cottonwoods (native to the area) and eucalyptus (which are non-invasive) along with various row crops such as soybeans. This organization of “super trees” was brought into being as a result of the University’s joint research with other agencies including Shell, the US Department of Energy, the Common Purpose Institute, and groups of various individuals who are working to develop alternative energy sources (those not dependent on fossil fuels) for the future. This research is focused on the planting and processing of biomass energy supplies from fast-growing crops known as “closed loop biomass” or simply “energy crops”. The project seeks to develop “power plants”  such as wood-pulp or wood-fiber providing plants; clean biogas to be used by industries; plants such as surgarcane which can be used for ethanol development; and crops such as soybeans for biodiesel fuel production.

University involvement in alternative energy research is also going on at Penn State University. At Penn State, special research is focused on the development of hydrogen power as a practical alternative energy source. The researchers involved are convinced that mankind is moving toward a hydrogen-fueled economy due to the needs for us to reduce air pollution and find other sources of energy besides petroleum to power up the United States. Hydrogen energy burns clean and can be endlessly renewed, as it can be drawn from water and crop plants. Hydrogen power would thus be a sustainable energy resource to be found within the US’ own infrastructure while the world’s supply of (affordable) oil peaks and begins to decline. The University seeks to help with the commercial development of hydrogen powered fuel cells, which would be usable in place of or in tandem with combustion engines for all of our motor vehicles.

When President Bush recently announced his alternative energy initiative, he determined that the government would develop five “Sun Grant” centers for concentrated research. Oregon State University has the honor of having been selected as one of these centers, and has been allocated government grants of $20 million for each of the next four years in order to carry out its mission. OSU will lead the way in researching alternative energy as it represents the interests of the Pacific Islands, the US’ Pacific Territories, and nine western states. OSU President Edward Ray says, the research being conducted through OSU’s Sun Grant center will contribute directly to our meeting President Bush’s challenge for energy independence. Specific research into alternative energy being conducted at OSU by varios teams of scientists right now include a project to figure out how to efficiently convert such products as straw into a source of renewable biomass fuel, and another one aimed at studying how to efficiently convert wood fibers into liquid fuel.

One comment

  1. Deepak says:

    Hi matt,I’m not sure I’d bet good money on our bureaucrats veesrs yours in an obfuscation competition, but ours are enough challenge for me I’d also mention that, given our current political situation, we are very likely to follow whatever environmental/government path y’all set, so your heroic efforts in digging up this information are not only interesting on an intellectual level to this citizen of the States, but are likely to have practical value as well. While we may be riding in different ships, I suspect that our lunatic captains are in close communication. I have no idea whether it made your news yet, but our liberal candidate for President gave a speech today in which he promised to totally transform our economy into a green one if elected. A good deal of his proposal was dedicated to how labor unions would play a major role in the new reality, meaning that we would tax all foreign imports into a noncompetitive position in our markets. The rest was mostly about promising to tax Big Oil to pay for buying everyone a fuel efficient car and a new house with all the latest energy efficient technology. While this may be a good long term goal, or it may not, or eventually land that candidate in a mental institution, I’ll give you fair warning now that our next Administration is quite likely to drag the world down into a very nasty depression. While I may be wrong (crossed fingers) it’s always a good idea to have a few supplies tucked aside in case of hard times.Keep up the good work,the Grit

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