Thanks to NRRI’s decades of work breeding tree species in the greenhouse, the United States will be ready with fast-growing energy crops to fuel alternative energy resources. NRRI’s Populus deltoides species and other hybrids are in the line-up with sorghum, switchgrass, willow, energy cane and others that are being tested for conversion to biofuels for alternatives to gasoline and diesel fuel.
But just how much can we expect to grow and harvest across the U.S.? NRRI’s Bill Berguson is the best person in the country to help answer that question. As leader of the Department of Energy’s Woody Energy Crops Team, and with 25 years of experience as NRRI Forestry Program Director, Berguson was asked to sort out what role the fast-growing hybrid poplar could play in the energy crops arena.
NRRI has invested almost 20 years of research into generating fast-growing trees by cross-breeding various species of poplar from around the world to select new, fast-growing biomass hybrids.
"What is emerging is an invaluable stock of genetic material that is becoming utilized worldwide as capabilities and knowledge develops further," said NRRI Director Rolf Weberg. "This program is a gem for alternative fuel possibilities."
Brian Herman is a believer in serendipity — the phenomenon of unintentionally making desirable discoveries — and that cross-disciplinary, collaborative research encourages those serendipitous connections. As Vice President for Research for the entire University of Minnesota system, Herman is working to integrate that philosophy through a web of 19 collegiate units and five campuses.
It’s time to do more than walk the talk. It’s time to tango! NRRI is taking its overarching mission of sustainability and integrating it into every nook and cranny of the institute.
As I write this, it’s been 35 days since my return to Duluth and my arrival at NRRI, and while the days have been long and busy, I have been heartened by the welcome, commitment and assistance offered to me by the NRRI staff, UMD colleagues and the Duluth business leadership.
Formerly the NRRI Muffin Meetings, NRRI Synergy Seminars are gatherings where two speakers present details of their project activities. Synergy Seminars are coordinated to help spark collaborative ideas in various research areas.