Humboldt State University Receives $5.88 Million Biomass Research Grant

A group of researchers at Humboldt State University recently received a $5.88 million grant to research a better way to use a charcoal-like residue created when slash from timber harvesting is burned. The grant – the largest donation of its kind – is part of the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, which supports renewable energy […]

A group of researchers at Humboldt State University recently received a $5.88 million grant to research a better way to use a charcoal-like residue created when slash from timber harvesting is burned.

The grant – the largest donation of its kind – is part of the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, which supports renewable energy in rural areas and is a collaboration between the Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

HSU forestry professor and team leader Han-Sup Han said the team’s research topic is not necessarily a new idea. The residue – known as biomass or biochar — is already used to produce renewable energy or can be placed back into the soil to improve productivity. The idea is to make the process more cost effective and the product easier to use by making it a denser.

“When a tree is harvested, it goes through a machine and the branches and top are taken off, leaving a nice straight log,” Han said. “What we’re interested in is the leftover, or the waste. Creating the biochar is a lot like coffee roasting – you start with a bean full of moisture and then cook it down.”

The cost to haul the burnt residue after it has been chipped or ground can be expensive – especially if the biomass plant where the energy is being made is far away from the site where the residue is produced.

From The Eureka Times-Standard: http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_25752732/hsu-receives-5-88-million-biomass-research-grant

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