Published: March 10, 2009

MSU wins federal funds to create biofuel research center with Michigan Tech

Contact(s): Ray Miller Forestry office: 906-786-1575

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Research to turn trees into liquid fuel gets a boost with approval of the $410 billion federal omnibus spending bill today. The bill allocates $1.4 million for a new biofuel research program at the Michigan State University Upper Peninsula Tree Improvement Center in Escanaba.


The funds will allow MSU and Michigan Technological University scientists to work together to find solutions to the most complex problems facing the forest-based cellulosic biofuels industry, using trees as raw materials for renewable fuels such as ethanol. The funding for the center comes from the U.S. Department of Energy and is being distributed by the Michigan Economic Development Corp.


"The Forestry Biofuel Statewide Collaboration Center will be a place where new and existing research, development and outreach projects at Michigan State and Michigan Tech can be focused," said Ray Miller, MSU forest biomass development coordinator. Miller also serves as UPTIC director and oversees forestry research at Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station properties in the U.P. UPTIC is one of 14 MAES field research stations around Michigan.


"The central U.P. is heavily forested and is at the heart of both the existing forest products industry and the emerging wood-based biofuels industry," Miller continued. "It's the perfect place to investigate and demonstrate the best ways to use our vast forest resources to expand the state's rural economies in environmentally, economically and socially sustainable ways."


Martin Dober, MEDC vice president of new markets, said the research at the center will build on work funded through the state's Forest Feedstock Supply Chain Center of Energy Excellence. MSU and MTU received $2 million through this program to support the Mascoma Corp.'s proposed cellulosic ethanol plant in Chippewa County.


"Michigan State and Michigan Tech have been working in partnership with the MEDC to encourage and support the development of Michigan's forest bioeconomy for more than a year," said Steve Pueppke, director of both the MSU Office of Biobased Technologies and the MAES. "We welcome this additional support that will allow us to expand the work we've begun and increase the scope to include the entire state."


Other budget bill funds, categorized as U.S. Department of Agriculture special research grants, are to go directly to MSU. They include $500,000 of a multistate $4.5 million grant for wood utilization research; $346,000 to share with the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station for fire blight research; $346,000 to combat the plant disease phytophthora; and $266,000 for sustainable agriculture research. Michigan State also will share in a $3.8 million dollar Energy and Water appropriation for a Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research.


For more information on MSU's biofuel and bioenergy research, visit:


For more details on the MAES, visit


For additional information on the forest-based biofuel research center, read the news release at the Michigan Tech Web site.




Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global research and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.




Michigan Technological University is a leading public research university, conducting research, developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, forestry and environmental sciences, computing, technology, business and economics, natural and physical sciences, arts, humanities and social sciences.

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