MSU planting poplars to generate biomass for power

Michigan State University has planted the first of six plots of poplar trees as part of an initiative to generate power from renewable sources.

The East Lansing school says the 10-acre plots will grow fuel for its T.B. Simon power plant.

Michigan State spokeswoman Holly Whetstone says the trees will be harvested, chipped and burned as an alternative to coal.

She says the university adopted an energy transition plan last year that includes spending on sustainable energy research and development.

The Simon Power Plant now produces about 1.7 percent of its energy from untreated wood chips, and only one of four boilers now can burn wood chips.

Michigan State says it will use a process torrefaction to create a material suitable for coal boilers.