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Collaborative Success Stories: As Simple as MR ABC

Mississippi River

University of Missouri researcher Dr. Shibu Jose believes American biofuels are the key to national and economic security.

The United States government wants to produce 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022. Jose says this is difficult due to three limiting factors: reliable and large-scale biomass availability; economical transport of bulk quantities of plant material; and an infrastructure of bio-refineries to efficiently convert it to fuel.

Jose and his team of researchers are focused on finding solutions for these challenges. They think the key lies in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and the land surrounding them. Jose is the leader of the Mississippi/Missouri River Advanced Biomass/Biofuel Consortium (MR ABC). It’s a team of more than 40 academic institutions and agricultural/energy companies working to turn the Missouri and Mississippi rivers into a “biomass corridor.”

Preliminary research shows there are about 116 million acres of marginal land near the rivers unsuitable for traditional crops due to flooding, erosion and poor soil. Jose says biofuel crops such as switch grass, poplar trees, willows, energy cane and Miscanthus can thrive in these areas and be regularly harvested. Unlike conventional locations for biomass crops, planting in these areas does not hinder food production.

Jose and his team recently received a $5.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and a $2 million endowment from Enterprise Holdings, Inc. to further their research. The project is part of a $125 million international project to study how to use marginal land to grow high-yield biomass crops and convert them to advanced biofuels.

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Related Initiative(s):
Sustainable Energy