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Univ. Tenn. Peatland Carbon Processes Investigation Funded (Funding)
University of Tennessee
Date: 2020-01-27
A UT microbiologist has received a portion of a $3.1 million grant from the US DOE to study how global warming could affect peatlands and their vast carbon stores in the future.

Steven Wilhelm, the Kenneth and Blaire Mossman Professor of Microbiology, is part of a team led by Jean-Philippe Gibert, a food web expert and assistant professor of biology at Duke University. Wilhelm's co-investigators include David Weston and Dale Pelletier, staff scientists in the Biosciences Division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Jonathan Shaw, professor of biology at Duke. In the three-year project, the group will study and model the effects of warming on the complex network of bacteria, protists, and viruses that interact with peat moss.

Peat moss plays a key role in slowing climate change by keeping 370 million metric tpy of CO2 out of the atmosphere -- equivalent to the emissions from nearly half the car traffic in the US.

Though peatlands cover just 3 pct of the Earth's surface they store twice as much carbon as all the world's forests. Over hundreds or thousands of years, Sphagnum and other peatland plants pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as they grow, trapping the carbon inside layers of partially decayed plant material up to 20 feet deep. But warming trends could put that carbon storage at risk. Rising temperatures could thaw or dry out peat wetlands, making them more prone to decay and wildfires. Decomposing or burning plants mean the heat-trapping gas long locked up in peatlands could be released, accelerating the global warming process.

To better predict the impacts of warming on peatlands and the carbon they contain, the team is studying a set of players they say are largely overlooked: microbes. Their previous work suggests that under future warming, the community of microbes and other tiny organisms that grow in and around peat mosses could shift balance, which could affect the ability of peatlands to sequester carbon. (Source: University of Tennessee, Knoxville, PR, 27 Jan., 2020) Contact: University of Tennessee, Karen Dunlap, 865-974-8674, kdunlap6@utk.edu, Amanda Womac , 865-974-2992, awomac1@utk.edu, www.utk.edu; Duke University, Robin Smith, (919-681-8057, robin.a.smith@duke.edu, www.duke.edu

More Low-Carbon Energy News Peatland,  Carbon Storage,  Carbon Sequestration,  Carbon Emissions,  University of Tennessee,  


Woody Biomass Feedstock Logistics Study Funded (Funding)
Woddy Biomass,USDA
Date: 2019-05-13
Researchers at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) are reporting receipt of $1 million in USDA grant funding to investigate the key parameters for high-quality, year-round woody biomass feedstock logistics systems for commercialized biorefineries in the Southeastern U.S.

The 3-year study is intended to expedite the development of a commercialized cellulosic biofuel sector by improving the efficiency of the logistics systems of woody biomass feedstock required for biofuel production.

The study will determine woody biomass quality in the Southeast and identify the relationship with conversion performance. Additionally, the cost and energy use for woody biomass feedstock size reduction through both conventional and advanced technologies will be obtained at an industrial scale, and the cost and quality of the feedstock will be incorporated to address the challenges of balancing cost and quality in feedstock logistics for scaling up biofuel production.

The study includes the evaluation of alternative pre-processing technologies in feedstock logistics systems for hardwood logging residues and an energy crop -- hybrid poplar -- to supply biofuel production.

The UTIA multidisciplinary research team includes agricultural economists, forest scientists, chemists, and biosystems engineers, with collaboration from a bioenergy company, Proton Power, Inc., and a biomass research and development company, Forest Concepts, LLC. (Source: University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, Bioenergy Insight, 13 May, 2019) Contact: University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, (865) 974-6756, https://ag.tennessee.edu/Pages/default.aspx

More Low-Carbon Energy News Woody Biomass,  Biofuel,  


DOE Awards $3M for Advanced Biofuels, Bioenergy R&D (Funding)
Biomass Research and Development Initiative
Date: 2018-05-11
The US Department of Energy (DOE) reports it's Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) will award up to $3 million in grant funding to the University of Tennessee and Northwestern University for advanced biofuels, bioenergy, and biobased products.

The University of Tennessee (UT). UT will be developing an integrated biorefinery design that combines the production of liquid fuels and renewable chemicals to verify production of affordable cellulosic ethanol.

Northwestern University will develop a rapid synthesis of next-generation biofuels and bioproducts from lignocellulosic biomass. The project will employ several strategies to reduce the timeframe of discovering biosynthetic pathways to optimize fuel and chemical production, including bottom-up engineering principles, computational models, and cell-free framework systems.

Both projects aim to lower biofuel production costs and develop diverse, cost-effective cellulosic biomass technologies for use in the production of biofuels and biobased products. (Source: US DOE, Green Car Congress, 10 May, 2018) Contact: DOE Biomass Research and Development Initiative , https://biomassboard.gov

More Low-Carbon Energy News Biofuel,  Cellulosic Biomass,  

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