Growth Rings

Fast-growing poplar still considered for biofuels

Posted on May 14, 2010 at 9:19 am


The fast-growing poplar tree is still being tested and considered by scientists as a biofuel alternative to finite fuels, reports The Baltimore Sun.

Researchers from the University of Maryland think fuel from “poplar could eventually replace some of the billions of gallons of petroleum-based fuel now pumped a year.”

An excerpt from the story published earlier this month:

Globally, other crops such as sugar are used to make biofuel. And more, including willow trees, algae and switchgrass, are in the race with poplars to become the next viable crop. But the government and scientists see poplars as having an edge because they naturally grow to about 70 feet in five or six years and grow just about anywhere.

Sugar, used to make biofuel in Brazil, for example, is sensitive to the cold in much of the United States.

Poplars would use up land, too, but not as much as corn and not in place of food crops, said Sriram, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering in the A. James Clark School of Engineering. Poplars, also called cottonwood or aspen, already are farmed, but for paper and timber.

“The scientific community already decided that poplars would make a good biofuel,” Sriram said. “It’s been studied since the ’70s.”

What do we think of trees as a biofuel resource?

–Toshio Suzuki

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One Response to “Fast-growing poplar still considered for biofuels”

  1. There is a huge tree farm east of Portland, Oregon that they’re turning fast growing poplar into lumber

    maybe next they’ll put a power plant out there

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