Grass Grant Ignites SUNY Canton Study
CANTON – A team of SUNY Canton professors are weeding out a solution to the energy crisis with help from a $159,000 New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) grant.
Native northern New York grasses and weeds may be pelletized to create clean-burning heating sources, according to Michael J. Newtown, director of the college’s alternative and renewable energy systems program.
“Native plants, including switchgrass and reed canary grass will all be made into pelletized fuel for testing,” Newtown said. “Vacant farmlands can be used to grow these native grasses, potentially making an extra boon for our area farmers, while creating a whole new heating source in the North Country.”
Newtown is working on this research initiative with Professor Emeritus Arthur Hurlbut and Matthew D. Bullwinkel, Associate Professor of alternative and renewable energy systems.
The project is comprised of several phases. Initially, the SUNY Canton professors will be researching the various grasses as a fuel source in pellet stoves and boilers. “We will be studying combustion efficiency and the emissions when using these crops in highly-efficient European wood boiler units,” Bullwinkel said.
Future phases of this project will include a live testing initiative. “We plan on installing these highly efficient heating systems to further test the viability of the pelletized grass fuel source and gain real-world usage data,” Newtown said.
The initiative is funded through NYSERDA in conjunction with Cornell University and the Cornell Cooperative extension.
SUNY Canton offers a wide variety of career-driven bachelor’s, associate, and certificate programs, as well as three master’s degrees in conjunction with SUNYIT, Utica. Most of SUNY Canton’s new four-year programs are designed so students can take them on-campus, online, or both. SUNY Canton OnLine features more than 100 courses online each semester. The college’s athletic teams belong to the NAIA’s Sunrise Conference, enabling students to compete in their respective sports for four years.
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