A company called Genesis in New Zealand is studying the use of a shrubby willow to produce ethanol. Genesis CEO Dr. Stephen Hall was at BIO 2006 in Chicago where Chuck met him. He gave us a call last week to do an interview over the phone about this plant and its potential as an ethanol source. Hall says salix could be a good alternative to using corn or sugarcane because of the amount of biomass it can produce and that it can grow very rapidly on marginal land. “We’re getting yields of 11 to 16 tons of dry matter per hectare per annum,” he says. In addition, Hall says salix can also produce lignin, “which can be used as a raw material for plastics or other polymers.”
I did some checking on salix and found out that is the genus name for willow and there’s a bunch of them. The one that is termed “shrubby” is the Common Osier (Salix viminalis), according to Wikipedia. That’s what I think Dr. Hall is talking about. He can correct me if I’m wrong.
Listen to Chuck’s interview with Dr. Hall here: Stephen Hall (8:00 MP3)