ArborGen Teams Up with Clemson University for Bioenergy Project

Summerville, South Carolina

December 21, 2012 – Scientists at two of South Carolina’s most recognized
names in forestry and biofuels research plan to find out if poplar trees grown
in South Carolina have a role in the nation’s bioenergy future.

Researchers at Clemson University’s Pee Dee Research and
Education Center
and Ridgeville-based ArborGen Inc.
have collaborated to plant thousands of poplars at the Pee Dee center to
determine if certain varieties of the tree are suitable for bioenergy stock.

David Brown, ArborGen’s southeastern field research
manager, noted that biomass for bioenergy gives landowners another market for
their crops.

"Clemson’s Pee Dee center plays a vital role
developing bioenergy markets by growing a variety of bioenergy feedstock,"
Brown said. "In the case of this project, we are working to determine the
absolute best tree for bioenergy and having that available to South Carolina
forest landowners."

Last year, ArborGen planted four species of poplars at
the Pee Dee center. Some of those trees already have grown taller than 20 feet
and show great promise for emerging bioenergy markets worldwide, Brown said.

In November, Brown and his collaborator at Clemson,
crop physiologist Jim Frederick, planted 690 varieties of Populus nigra ("black
poplar") to learn which are best suited as bioenergy stock and as "parents" for
making hybrids with P. deltoides, the local eastern cottonwood that grows
healthily in the U.S.

Brown and Frederick planted more than 3,000 trees,
which they will monitor and evaluate during the next few years. The approximate
rotation length — time between harvests — is about five to six years, by which
time some may be more than 50 feet tall, Brown said. The trees will sprout
again and grow from the cut stumps, thus they need to be planted just once.

In 2009, Clemson and ArborGen formed a research
cooperative that centered on development of purpose-grown woody biomass as
feedstock for the biofuels industry.

Clemson and ArborGen collaborate in such areas as
plant genetics and development, field trials, equipment engineering, material
handling and woody biomass pretreatment, among other areas.

Research is conducted on tree species that include
coastal loblolly pine, sweetgum, eucalyptus and poplar trees as possible
sources of renewable biofuel.

Clemson’s Frederick said much of the woody biomass for
bioenergy likely will come from purposely grown bioenergy trees that have fast
growth rates and is an important area of research for Clemson to be involved
in.

"Interest in bioenergy as a whole is the basis for the
partnership," Frederick said. "There’s no big grant involved — just two groups
working together for a common cause."

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