While poplar and aspen are fast-growing trees well suited to the North and Midwest, Dr. Gopi Podila says there are trees that will grow just as fast in the Southeast, including native southern poplar and sweet gum.
Within five to seven years fast growing trees and grasses might become economically viable alternatives to corn as a source of renewable fuel ethanol, reducing the need for pollutants that now cause a massive "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico.
"Ethanol from cellulose, whether from trees or other sources, will be the way to go in the very near future," says Dr. Gopi Podila, a University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville) biologist who has been conducting research on high-yield trees for more than a decade. "Trees are cheaper to raise than corn, have a competitive yield and they don't need as much of the fertilizers that are causing all of the problems in the Gulf. "These trees also offer the U.S. a realistic option for producing enough renewable energy to make a meaningful dent in fossil fuel imports." More>>>