Published: Nov. 9, 2009

MSU, Michigan Tech sign contract with renewable resource company

Contact(s): Ray Miller Forestry office: 906-786-1575 rmiller@msu.edu

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Ensuring a sustainable supply of woody biomass for the state's first cellulosic ethanol plant is the goal of a research partnership between Michigan State University and Michigan Technological University, supported by Frontier Renewable Resources of Kinross, Mich.

MSU and Michigan Tech scientists are working together through the state-designated Feedstock Supply Chain Center of Energy Excellence on four projects:

  • Developing a feedstock supply chain model
  • Increasing the availability of sustainable biomass
  • Improving biomass harvesting and hauling efficiency
  • Building an outreach program

"Each project is led by two researchers – one from MSU and one from MTU – and is aimed at ensuring the environmental, economic and social sustainability of biofuels in Michigan," said Raymond Miller, MSU forest biomass development coordinator. Miller also serves as director of the Upper Peninsula Tree Improvement Center, where woody biomass production research is conducted, and oversees forestry research at Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station properties in the U.P.

"Sustainability is a big part of this research," Miller continued. "The idea is to use Michigan biomass resources in a sustainable way to grow the renewable energy sector of the state's economy."

The research is supported by a $2 million grant the Michigan Economic Development Corp. made in 2008 to the Mascoma Corp. Mascoma and J.M. Longyear are partners in Frontier Renewable Resources, which then provided funding to the universities.

“Frontier is committed to helping Michigan become an energy leader, create good-paying 21st-century jobs and reduce our dependence on imported fuels," said Frontier CEO Steve Hicks. "This important research funding assists us in our sustainable forest practices. Thanks to the tremendous support of Gov. Jennifer Granholm and her outstanding team, Frontier and the state of Michigan are in position to write the next chapter of our nation’s energy future.”

"Michigan Tech is delighted to be able to put our expertise in biomass-based fuel and renewable energy to work with Frontier Renewable Resources and Michigan State University, to ensure the economic and scientific success of this important alternative energy project," said David Reed, vice president for research at Michigan Tech. Reed played a key role in developing the research partnership.

“Michigan State and Michigan Tech have been working in partnership to encourage the development of Michigan’s forest bioeconomy for almost two years,” said Steve Pueppke, director of the MSU Office of Biobased Technologies and the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station. “We welcome this support, which allows us to expand the work we’ve begun and increase the scope of our efforts to the entire state.”

Miller's research and the Feedstock Supply Chain Center of Energy Excellence also are supported by the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station.

For more information on Michigan State University's biofuel and bioenergy research, visit: www.bioeconomy.msu.edu.

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