Scientists explore use of invasive trees to develop jet fuel

Jul 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: Poachers threaten new slaughter of South African elephants

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

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New insights into invasive plant management

Feb 06, 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 ...

Following the footprint of invasive trees

Jul 09, 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 ...

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

Apr 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 ...

Recommended for you

Japan wraps up Pacific whale hunt

10 hours ago

Japan announced Tuesday that it had wrapped up a whale hunt in the Pacific, the second campaign since the UN's top court ordered Tokyo to halt a separate slaughter in the Antarctic.

Algae under threat from invasive fish

11 hours ago

Tropical fish invading temperate waters warmed as a result of climate change are overgrazing algae, posing a threat to biodiversity and some marine-based industries.

User comments : 0