Scientists explore use of invasive trees to develop jet fuel

July 23, 2013 by Ann Perry

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are exploring options for using invasive trees to develop U.S. Navy fighter jet fuel.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at several locations in the western United States are contributing to a project called "Accelerated Renewable Jet Fuel (RJF) Supplies from Invasive Woody Species." ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency, and this work supports the USDA priority of developing new sources of bioenergy.

In western U.S. rangelands, native juniper and pinyon pine are spreading beyond their historical and disrupting the environmental balance of their expanded range. Preliminary estimates suggest harvesting some of these hardy invaders every year could supply enough biomass to produce millions of gallons of renewable . Removing these trees would help restore productive rangeland for livestock and protect critical sagebrush habitat for the western and other animals.

In Burns, Ore., research leader Tony Svejcar and others will inventory trees available for harvest and biofuel production. This information can also be used to determine optimal locations for restoring wildlife habitat and locations where harvests could adversely impact existing wildlife. Svejcar works at the ARS Range and Meadow Forage Management Research Unit in Burns.

The scientists will also focus on devising plans for harvesting the trees in a sustainable manner. ARS research leader Fred Pierson plans to conduct experimental juniper harvests on a variety of sites in Idaho to observe how the removal affects erosion, and will use the information to model the environmental impacts of large-scale tree harvests. Pierson, who works at the ARS Northwest Watershed Research Center in Boise, Idaho, will also be monitoring how juniper removal affects large-scale water cycles.

Much of the harvest planning will be conducted with computer models that have been developed by ARS scientists and their colleagues. David Goodrich, a hydraulic engineer at the ARS Southwest Watershed Research Center in Tucson, Ariz., will fine-tune modeling estimates of watershed-level rainfall runoff and erosion, which will help guide decisions on where to harvest trees.

Explore further: Burning invasive juniper trees boosts perennial grass recovery

More information: www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/jul13/trees0713.htm

Related Stories

New insights into invasive plant management

February 6, 2012

Over a decade of research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has resulted in the development of a new matrix for invasive plant management. The model was created by scientists with the Agricultural Research Service ...

Soil erosion modeling: It's getting better all the time

April 24, 2012

About 50 years ago, scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) devised the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE), a formula farmers could use to estimate losses from soil erosion. Agricultural Research Service ...

Following the footprint of invasive trees

July 9, 2013

In Oregon, western juniper trees are expanding their range, pushing out other plant species, reducing sagebrush habitat and livestock forage, and at times fueling catastrophic wildfires. During some of these conflagrations, ...

Recommended for you

Plastic in 99 percent of seabirds by 2050

August 31, 2015

Researchers from CSIRO and Imperial College London have assessed how widespread the threat of plastic is for the world's seabirds, including albatrosses, shearwaters and penguins, and found the majority of seabird species ...

Researchers unveil DNA-guided 3-D printing of human tissue

August 31, 2015

A UCSF-led team has developed a technique to build tiny models of human tissues, called organoids, more precisely than ever before using a process that turns human cells into a biological equivalent of LEGO bricks. These ...

Study shows female frogs susceptible to 'decoy effect'

August 28, 2015

(Phys.org)—A pair of researchers has found that female túngaras, frogs that live in parts of Mexico and Central and South America, appear to be susceptible to the "decoy effect." In their paper published in the journal ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.