Washington, 16 October (Argus) — US agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack today awarded a $10mn, five-year research grant to a university and business consortium led by Pennsylvania State University to study which biofuel feedstocks might best be grown in the northeast.
The research project will focus on development of non-food biomass sources such as willow, miscanthus and switchgrass, which can be grown on former strip mines and in marginal floodplains.
“This is an opportunity not only to grow and expand our feedstock but to address a concern that many folks have about strip mines and what happens after an area has been mined,” Vilsack said.
The biomass research project aims to develop sustainable production practices to improve yields by 25pc and cut costs by 20pc.
This is the sixth, and smallest, research grant the Agriculture Department (USDA) has awarded through its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative to attempt to develop regional, renewable energy markets.
In September 2011, Vilsack announced five grants totaling more than $136mn for research projects in various regions of the country.
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