USDA Announces Bioenergy Initiatives
U.S. Forest Service announces $4 million for renewable wood bioenergy projects; nanotechnology applications for forestry.
Published: Jul 27, 2012
The Forest Service on Thursday announced an award of $4 million for wood-to-energy projects and the opening of a $1.7 million nanocellulose lab. The lab will support an emerging market for new wood-derived renewable materials that will become the country's leading producer of forest-based nanomaterials.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said both projects will be job creators, and will boost economic activity.
"Our nation's forests are a precious natural resource providing multiple economic opportunities that are creating jobs and contributing billions of dollars in economic activity across the country," Vilsack said.
U.S. Forest Service announces $4 million for renewable wood energy projects. The Forest Service award grants will be distributed to 20 small businesses, tribes and community groups to develop renewable energy projects that require engineering services.
Forest Chief Tom Tidwell said the projects would focus on developing renewable thermal energy or electricity, and explained that the funding would allow businesses, universities and hospitals to lower energy bills while promoting forest health.
The projects will use woody material such as beetle-killed trees removed from forests to aid in wildfire prevention. The material will then be processed in bioenergy facilities to produce renewable energy. The awardees will use funds from the Woody Biomass Utilization Grant program to secure the engineering services necessary for final design, permitting and cost analysis.
The grant program helps applicants complete the necessary design work needed to secure public or private investment for construction. Examples of projects include the engineering design of a woody biomass boiler for steam at a sawmill, a non-pressurized hot water system for a hospital or school and a biomass-power generation facility.
The Forest Service's Forest Products Laboratory is poised to become the country's leading producer of forest-based nanomaterials with the opening of a $1.7 million nanocellulose pilot plant. The facility will support an emerging market for new wood-derived renewable materials that will create jobs and contribute billions of dollars to the economy.
As new products are developed and commercialized, fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced, manufacturing in rural areas will increase, and many new high-paying jobs will be created. FPL's new facility will aid in the commercialization of these materials by providing researchers and early adopters of the technology with working quantities of forest-based nanomaterials.
Tidwell said the plants technology will take woody material that needs to be removed from forests and develop it into a biomaterial that is commercially viable. He said the products created in the plant have the potential to replace currently-used plastics.
Vilsack said the plant represents and innovative way to create and export products that haven't been created before.
"This is all designed to reformulate the American economy to an economy that is based on what we make rather than what we consume," Vilsack said.
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