Northern Maine researchers are eyeing production of grass biomass from the St. John Valley as a way to provide sustainable heating for the region and state.
The Bangor Daily News reported that the Center for Rural Development at the University of Maine at Fort Kent announced it has won a $62,334 federal grant to fund a third year studying the possibility that the region's grasslands could be turned into a heat source.
Andrew Plant, an assistant professor with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, told the paper that 50% of Aroostook County's cropland is currently out of production.
Using that land to grow grass biofuel, Plant said, could serve a dual purpose of keeping that land clear in expectation that food demands triple by 2050.
John Martin, director of the Center for Rural Development and current District 1 House representative, told the paper that the center is hoping to get farmers on board this winter and also develop a prototype unit that would transform grass biomass into burnable pellets for commercial heating.