Stories tagged David Tilman


Large scale study shows 540% net energy gain when ethanol is produced from switchgrass

Panicum Vergatum: Switchgrass
Panicum Vergatum: SwitchgrassCourtesy U S Govt

Kenneth Vogel, a geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Lincoln, Nebraska, and his colleagues, found that ethanol produced from switchgrass yields 540% of the energy used to grow, harvest, and process it into ethanol.

Their results, published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that switchgrass, farmed using conventional agricultural practices on less-than-prime cropland yields only slightly less ethanol per hectare on average than corn.

Farmers planted switchgrass on 10 farms, each of which was between 3 and 9 hectares. They then tracked the inputs they used--diesel for farm equipment and transporting the harvested grasses, for example--as well as the amount of grass they raised over a 5-year period. ScienceNOW Daily News

Switchgrass monoculture or mixed prairie grasses?

Anyone remember our Buzz post "Chalk one up for diversity"? David Tilman in that post is quoted saying, "diverse prairie grasslands are 240 percent more productive than grasslands with a single prairie species"
Now I read:

... Vogel says, is that yields on farms using fertilizer and other inputs, such as herbicides and diesel fuel for farm machinery, were as much as six times higher than yields on farms that used little or no fertilizer, herbicides, or other inputs to grow a mixture of native prairie grasses. ScienceNOW Daily News

Who is right? Can anyone explain why two reputable researchers are getting such different results?


Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment
Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment

Xcel donates multi-millions to Renewable Development Fund.

What would you do if you were given $16 million each year to develop renewable energy? Minnesota Statute 216B.2423 requires Xcel Energy to donate $500,000 annually for each dry cask containing spent nuclear fuel to a renewables development fund.
To date Xcel Energy has committed to funding nearly $53 million for projects to identify and develop new or emerging renewable energy sources. A third round of funding is to begin by March 2007. A one-time payment of $10 million was made to the University of Minnesota's Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment on July 1, 2003.

University of Minnesota creates Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE).

The mission of IREE is

to promote statewide economic development, sustainable, healthy, and diverse ecosystems, and national energy security through development of bio-based and other renewable resources and processes.

In fiscal year 2005 alone, IREE awarded nearly $11.5M to renewable energy research and demonstration projects at the University of Minnesota. These funds were used to support 67 projects and leveraged an additional $9.3M from state, federal and business and industry partners.

IREE's Third Annual Research Symposium is Tuesday

Want to talk to researchers about what they are doing with millions of dollars in grant moneys. University of Minnesota faculty and researchers will showcase groundbreaking new work in the areas of renewable energy and the environment next Tuesday, Nov. 28, at the McNamara Alumni Center.

Don Shelby, news anchor for WCCO TV, and Edward Garvey, Deputy Commissioner for the Energy and Telecommunications Division with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, are scheduled to give the keynote addresses. University of Minnesota Regents Professor David Tilman will give the capnote address at the conclusion of this year's conference.
A poster session featuring IREE-funded projects will also take place throughout the day in the main hall.

I attended last year's symposium and plan to go again this Tuesday. My favorite experience last year was talking to the U of M Solar Vehicle team about their car and their experiences racing it cross-country. Here is a link to the Research Symposium schedule. Online registration is now closed but IREE will be accepting walk-up registrations at the door the day of the conference.

Read more about IREE and their funded projects

IREE funded projects 2005, 2004, 2003.
IREE website index.
IREE objectives and activities.