• Evaluating short rotation poplar biomass on an experimental land-fill cap near Anchorage, Alaska

      Byrd, Amanda G. (2013-05)
      Biomass energy has enjoyed a resurgence of scientific interest recently. Indeed, biomass may have the potential to replace diesel fuel as the primary source of heating in some parts of Alaska. In addition to forest biomass, short rotation crops have been considered as a sustainable source of woody biomass, and a potential sink for carbon sequestration. In this study, Populus balsamifera was evaluated as a short rotation crop for use as an energy source in Southcentral Alaska. Growth and yield rates were measured on an established P. balsamifera stand under a two-year rotation, yielding an annual biomass production of 5,530 kg/ha/yr. A fertilizer application study was conducted and demonstrated no effect on growth. Energy content of P. balsamifera measured 19,684 kJ/Kg, with a total energy yield of 217,715 MJ/ha after two years. Carbon sequestered below ground was estimated at least 5,338 kg/ha. Biomass may not be carbon neutral, but the carbon emitted from burning biomass is at least partially renewable. With use in high-efficiency boilers, there is potential for biomass to offset costs, and even save money by displacing diesel heating fuel.