Researchers at the University of North Florida are exploring potential plant-based fuels.
They received a $462,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand their research on switchgrass, which grows plentifully across many regions of the country.
UNF Assistant Professor of Biology Mike Aspinwall is leading the study to determine how temperature affects the plant’s growth.
The ultimate goal is determining how switchgrass would perform as a fuel.
“They are the key traits that sort of regulate how much carbon dioxide switchgrass takes from the atmosphere, and as a result how much of that carbon dioxide goes into producing biomass, which is important for bioenergy,” Aspinwall said.
UNF is one of several universities studying the renewable resource in different environments from Texas to Michigan.
Aspinwall expects to find clear results from the study in three to five years.
The U.S. Department of Energy started studying the species in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
The U.S. government has been interested in using the species as an alternative local fuel source to lower dependency on foreign oil and fossil fuels, according to UNF.