|Submission Date||Feb. 24, 2015|
University of Missouri
IN-4: Innovation 4
Sr. Recycling & Waste Minimization Specialist
Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Researchers have long known that the fertile land of Missouri and the Midwest have the capacity to be powerhouses for biofuel production. What has remained elusive is a way to grow the biomass needed to make biofuel without encroaching on land dedicated to food crops, and how to transport and refine the biomass profitably. Big energy challenges like these require big ideas and even bigger collaborations— and Mizzou’ Advantage researcher Shibu Jose has both.
Jose, director of the Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri, is the leader of the Mississippi/Missouri River Advanced Biomass/Biofuel Consortium, a team of more than 40 academic institutions and agricultural and energy companies working to turn the Missouri and Mississippi rivers into a “biomass corridor” that will provide clean energy for the U.S. and economic opportunity for Missouri.
Mizzou Advantage is proud to be a sponsor of Jose’s preliminary research into biomass plantations, as well as a continuing partner in pursuing grants and other opportunities to apply the research to real-world problems in the Midwest and beyond.
The cycle begins with cultivating the marginal land along the rivers, where traditional food crops fail but native biomass crops like cottenwood and miscanthus flourish. MU’s extensive research in biomass crop performance allows the plant selection to be tailored to each site. Because the plants grow close to the river, the material can be transported by barge to refineries — which are also built along the river — at a fraction of the price of trucking it. An affordable way to transport energy crops is essential to making biomass production feasible for growers.
“In the past, we used to do all of these things for the sake of conservation, now we are also telling land owners you can still get that conservation benefit with a crop you can sell; it’s a market-based approach to conservation,” Jose said.
Jose says recently completed preliminary research shows that America’s two great rivers can support an effort to economically take biofuels from plants harvested in waste ground to finished biofuel pumped into fuel tanks. The organization’s next step is to find funding to build a prototype bio-processing facility that will create the first gallon.
If implemented, the plan could create about two-thirds of the 21 billion gallons of biofuels called for in federal goals by 2022, he says.
A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):
Jose said the preliminary research shows there are about 116 million acres of marginal land near these rivers that is unsuitable for traditional crops because of flooding, erosion and poor soil. This method of production is environmentally friendly, Jose said. Many of these plants require little to no fertilizer. Most are soil stabilizing plants, holding the soil in place.
Jose estimated that planting biomass crops on six million acres – just five percent of the marginal land available around the rivers – would produce enough raw material to be converted into seven billion gallons of biofuel.
A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of five):
|Yes or No|
|Air & Climate||Yes|
|Coordination, Planning & Governance||---|
|Diversity & Affordability||---|
|Health, Wellbeing & Work||---|
Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:
The website URL where information about the innovation is available: