WVU researchers leading $10 million sustainable biomass project


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University researchers are leading a $10 million sustainable biomass to value-added bioproducts project.

Biomass is renewable, organic energy derived from things like wood, crops and animal waste, that can be used as an energy source. In addition, it can be used as value-added bioproducts to make things like plastic, chemicals, detergents and food additives. Jingxin Wang, the project lead and also a WVU professor of wood science and technology, said the advancement of biomass can be used to improve the regional biodiverse economy and the rural environment.

Jingxin Wang

I think it could be helpful to creating jobs in West Virginia. This is why we try to reach out state agencies, regional industries and even communities for example. And we don’t have exact numbers, I mean the job creations aren’t exact but our target is to try to reach out to people and help people to build up businesses — the so-called bioeconomic business in the region.

Jingxin Wang – Professor of Wood Science and Technology, WVU

According to a WVU press release, the biomass feedstock supply will potentially help to create more than 10 new businesses with the bioproduct supply chain.

The release also stated at the heart of the project is the establishment of the Mid-Atlantic Sustainable Biomass for Value-Added Products Consortium, which includes a regional group of universities, industry partners, national laboratories and governmental agencies interested in advancing the science and practice of sustainable bioproducts. 

The release states that consortium partners include: Penn State University, Virginia Tech, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, West Virginia State University, Eastern WV Community and Technical College, U.S. Department of Energy Idaho National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S.Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory and Rocky Mountain Research Station. 

Various industry partners will also be involved in the project for commercial-scale development and demonstrations including Double-A-Willow, Allstar Ecology, Ernst Biomass, Lignetics, Gas Technology Institute, Norris Thermal Technologies, Torresak and Eastern Biochar, according to the release.

“I am very excited to lead this effort, but I’ll tell you, there’s a lot of responsibility at the same time,” Wang said. “I have to coordinate the whole thing, it could be a lot of effort for the next few years. But we have to move forward, we have to do it.”

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