By Press release
Jun. 17, 2013, East Lansing, MI - Michigan State University has planted the first of six plots of poplar trees as part of an initiative to generate power from renewable sources. The 10-acre plots will grow fuel for the university's T.B. Simon Power Plant, the East Lansing school announced this month.
The trees will be harvested, chipped and burned as an alternative to coal, said Michigan State spokeswoman Holly Whetstone. She said the university adopted an energy transition plan last year that includes spending on sustainable energy research and development.
The Simon Power Plant now produces about 1.7 percent of its energy from untreated wood chips, and only one of four boilers now can burn wood chips.
"Through a process called torrefaction, MSU scientists can create a material ... that is suitable for boilers," Whetstone said in a posting on the university's website. "Torrefaction occurs when a plant material is roasted to eliminate moisture and unstable chemicals. These chemicals can then be burned to power the process. The result is a concentrated material that can be transported and burned like coal."