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Univ. Maine, NASA to Monitor Forest Climate Progress (Ind. Report)
University of Maine, NASA
Date: 2020-11-11
The University of Maine Center for Research on Sustainable Forests is reporting receipt of $500,000 in grant funding for a three-year study to help NASA's Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation science team develop and test methods for mapping carbon deposits and biological changes across a large, complex swath of eastern forest.

The researchers will use data from NASA's newly launched ecosystem LiDAR (Light Detecting and Ranging) instrument, orbiting the Earth on the International Space Station. Michigan State University and the University of Minnesota will also participate in the study and will add the LiDAR data to their "FORest Carbon Estimation" project aimed at understanding and predicting how forests respond to changes in climate.

Maine's forest and associated industry currently offset 75 pct of the state's annual carbon emissions, according to recent estimates by Center for Research on Sustainable Forests researchers. Maine is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2045 through reduced emissions and innovative policies to increase carbon sequestration, according to a release. (Source: Univ. of Maine, Maine Biz, Nov., 2020) Contact: NASA, (301) 286-2000, www.nasa.gov; University of Maine Center for Research on Sustainable Forests, Aaron Weiskittel, Dir., 207-581-3794, www.crsf.umaine.edu

More Low-Carbon Energy News NASA,  Climate Change,  GHG,  


ISU Researchers Transforming Pennycress Into Commercial Crop (R&D)
Illinois State University
Date: 2020-10-02
Although pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) is widely considered a weed, Illinois State University researchers are working to genetically modify pennycress into a commercially grown cover crop that could be processed into biofuel, jet fuel, animal feed, and other high-value products. The mult-istate, multi-institutional 5-year effort is funded by a $10 million USDA grant and $13 million from the US DOE.

Domesticated, commercially grown pennycress could be grown as a cold-resistant, high-yield oilseed crop across the central United States, where nearly 80 million acres of land devoted to corn and soybeans sit dormant in the winter months.

This research has been ongoing for 10 years with the latest grant awarded in 2020. Illinois State researchers are currently working under the umbrella of the Integrated Pennycress Research Enabling Farm and Energy Resilience (IPREFER) program with colleagues at Western Illinois University, the University of Minnesota, The Ohio State University, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and the St. Louis-based crop development company CoverCress Inc.

Download Integrated Pennycress Research Enabling Farm and Energy Resilience (IPREFER) program details HERE (Source: Illinois State University, 1 Oct., 2020) Contact: Illinois State Univ., Professor John Sedbrook, (309) 438-3374, (309) 438-3722 -- fax, jcsedbr@ilstu.edu, www.illinoisstate.edu

More Low-Carbon Energy News Pennycress,  Biofuel,  


Economy Could Lose $10Tn with Business-as-Usual Approach to Climate Change (Ind. Report)
World Wildlife Fund,University of Minnesota
Date: 2020-03-27
A recently released collaborative report from the University of Minnesota (UMN) and the World Wildlife Fund has found that the global economy stands to lose $10 trillion by 2050 if countries continue to operate under a "business as usual" approach to climate change. The report notes the U.S. will likely be the biggest loser.

Through a combination of applied economics and environmental mapping, the team uses satellite technology to analyze different landscapes and ecosystems around the world. Based on the geographical data, researchers can calculate the landscape's susceptibility to things like carbon storage or erosion and can predict how local economies will be affected by the damage done by climate change.

The study predicts that if countries begin to follow an alternative "global conservation" approach, the U.S economy could gain as much as $11 billion by 2050. (Source: University of Minnesota, World Wildlife Fund, Minnesota Today, 25 Mar., 2020) Contact: WWF, Toby Roxburgh, www.worldwildlife.org; University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment, Justin Johnson, Stephn Polasky, (612) 624-6973, www.environment.umn.edu

More Low-Carbon Energy News World Wildlife Fund,  Climate Change,  University of Minnesota,  


WIU Funded for Pennycress Biofuel Research (Ind. Report, Funding)
Western Illinois University
Date: 2019-09-18
Western Illinois University (WIU) reports agriculture professor Win Phippen has been awarded a $10 million USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant to investigate the use of pennycress as a new cash cover crop and biofuels feedstock.

Researchers from Illinois State University, the Ohio State University, the University of Wisconsin at Platteville and the University of Minnesota will join Phippen's team.

The integrated pennycress crop program will focus on improving pennycress genetics for plant breeding and preservation, agronomic management, ecosystems and supply chain management for post-harvest seed control, with the goal of commercially launching pennycress as a cash cover and biofuels crop in 2021. St. Louis-based CoverCress Inc. is working closely with Phippen and his team for some of the breeding and post-production side of the research.

The end goal is to produce 50 billion gallons of biofuel in the next 25 years. (Source: Western Illinois University, Journal-Courier, 18 Sept., 2019) Contact: Western Illinois University, Prof. Win Phippen, (309) 298-1251, WB-Phippen@wiu.edu; CoverCress Inc., Funded for www.covercress.com; USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, https://nifa.usda.gov

More Low-Carbon Energy News Pennycress news,  Biofuel news,  


Minn., German Cities Collaborate on Climate Smart Municipalities, Energy Efficiency (Ind Report)
Energy Efficiency
Date: 2019-06-12
Projects in six Minnesota cities participating in the Climate-Smart Municipalities program are being reviewed this week by visiting German climate and energy leaders as part of multiyear collaborations between Minnesota cities and their German counterparts seeking to expand the use of renewable energy and increasing building energy efficiency.

The western German city of Arnsberg was paired up with Warren, Minn., three years ago as part of the Climate-Smart Municipalities program. It was using planes equipped with thermal imaging cameras to see which buildings were losing the most energy.

Related Minnesota programs and initiatives include the use of drones to measure building emissions and heat loss, solar energy installations, energy-efficient lighting, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and others. The program is directed through the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment in St.Paul. (Source: MPR News Update, June, 2019) Contact: University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, Jessica Hellman, Dir., (612) 624-6973Fax: (612) 626-5555 -- fax, ione@umn.edu, www.environment.umn.edu Climate-Smart Municipalities, environment.umn.edu/grant/climate-smart-municipalities

More Low-Carbon Energy News Energy Efficiency,  Climate Change,  


U. Minn. Soy-Biodiesel Innovation Campus Funded (Funding)
University of Minnesota
Date: 2019-06-07
The University of Minnesota reports $5 million in government funding for a soybean crush and biodiesel facility for the Soy Innovation Campus in Crookston has been approved, effective July, 2020.

The Soy Innovation Campus will include a specialty crushing facility conducive to educational purposes. (Source: University of Minnesota, Crookston Times, 6 June, 2019) Contact: Soy Innovation Campus University of Minnesota Crookston, www.mnsoybean.org, mnsoybean.org/blog-msga/soy-innovation-campus-gaining-traction-in-st-paul

More Low-Carbon Energy News Soy,  Biodiesel,  


Minn. Soy for Biodiesel Innovation Campus Advancing (Ind. Report)
Minnesota Soybean Growers Association
Date: 2019-04-22
In St. Paul, the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) is reporting funding for a soybean crush and biodiesel facility at the proposed Soy Innovation Campus, University of Minnesota Crookston will receive $5 million in funding as part of a bill authored by Minn. State Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake), chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Finance Committee.

According to a University of Minnesota Extension economic impact study, a soybean crush and biodiesel facility could potentially reignite Northwest Minnesota's agriculture economy where more than 1.5 million acres of soybeans were harvested in 2018. Soybean production throughout Northwest Minnesota has increased by more than 300 percent in the past 20 years; the 11 counties that would benefit from the SI Campus produced more than 62 million bushels of soybeans in 2018. (Source: Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, 19 April, 2019) Contact: MSGA, Joe Smentek, Exec. Dir., (507) 388-1635, https://mnsoybean.org

More Low-Carbon Energy News Minnesota Soybean Growers Association,  


Midwest Perennial Grasses Biofuel Feedstocks Investigated (R&D)
University of Minnesota
Date: 2019-01-30
In ongoing research to discover the ideal growing conditions for alternative biofuels feedstocks, researchers at the University of Minnesota College of Biological Science are investigating the advantages and environmental implications of perennial grasses on abandoned and degraded agricultural land on the US upper mid-western prairies.

A potential benefit of perennial grasses is tied to their deep root systems. According to researchers, deeper root systems -- as opposed to those seen in annual crops like corn -- are able to store large amounts of carbon below ground that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. However, because perennial grasses on marginal lands can have low yields due to less fertile soil, researchers examined ways to maximize growth of the grasses without negative effects on the environment.

In the 10-year study published in Nature Sustainability, researchers utilized 36 plots at an abandoned agricultural site in the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve to plant 32 species of prairie and savanna plants that are native to Minnesota. In 2007, researchers divided the plots into several groups and assigned them a combination of two treatments: water addition (i.e., irrigated or non-irrigated) and nitrogen fertilization (i.e., 0 g/m2, 7 g/m2, 14 g/m2). Over the next decade, researchers found that:

  • moderate treatments (irrigation and 7 g/m2 of nitrogen) had the best biomass yields and soil carbon storage, while having negligible effects on the stability, diversity and nutrient loss to groundwater;
  • compared with the control (non-irrigated and no additional nitrogen), moderate treatments resulted in almost twice the yield and soil carbon storage and -- if the plants were converted into bioenergy to displace fossil fuels -- it would result in twice the greenhouse gas savings;
  • compared with the moderate treatment, the more intensive treatment (irrigation and 14 g/m2 of nitrogen) had 30 percent lower greenhouse gas savings, 10 times greater nitrate leaching and 120 pct greater loss in plant diversity.

    Compared with corn ethanol, researchers found biomass yield from the best performing native prairie grasses was moderately lower -- six tons per hectare versus the average corn yield of eight tons per hectare in the U.S.. However, researchers found that because of lower nitrogen use and larger amounts of soil carbon storage, the native prairies would result in higher overall greenhouse gas savings when converted to bioenergy.

    The research was funded by the National Science Foundation's Long-Term Ecological Research program and the Global Climate and Energy Project. (Source: University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences, PR, 28 Jan., 2019) Contact: College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota, Prof. David Tilman, Prof. Clarence Lehman, Lead Researcher, 612-625-5734 Fax: 612-624-6777, lehman@umn.edu, cbs.umn.edu; Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, www.cedarcreek.umn.edu

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Biofuel Feedstock,  

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