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Public tours part of Oct. 3 biomass plant dedication

A public dedication of the new biomass gasification facility on the University of Minnesota, Morris campus is Friday, Oct. 3.

Public tours of the biomass facility and wind turbine will begin at 10:30 a.m. and also immediately following the dedication.

The dedication is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the biomass facility, which is located next to the heating and cooling plant, east of the Regional Fitness Center.

The event will be hosted by the University of Minnesota, Morris and the West Central Research and Outreach Center. Local legislators, members of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents and other dignitaries will attend.

"The biomass plant conceptual goals were to rethink how we use energy and explore the possibilities of utilizing renewable agricultural based feed stocks in a sustainable manner," said Lowell Rasmussen, UMM vice chancellor for finance and facilities.

A model community-based energy system, the new biomass gasification facility will use about 9,000 tons of biomass per year to offset roughly 80 percent of UMM's fossil fuel usage. Energy sources like corn stover and prairie grasses will be purchased from area farmers and producers, injecting hundreds of thousands of dollars into the regional economy, creating new employment opportunities, a "green collar" economy and an exciting future for west central Minnesota. The facility will move the campus one step closer to being energy self-sufficient and carbon neutral by 2010.

The project received one of 12 USDA/DOE (United States Departments of Agriculture and Energy) energy grants for $1.89 million to conduct additional research.

The grant, the largest received by the Morris campus to date, allowed UMM/WCROC to add the USDA Agricultural Research Service--North Central Soil Conservation Research Lab into the partnership to conduct research on carbon sequestration. The total project cost is almost $9 million, which includes grant money.

For more information about the biomass leadership, energy and research, visit the Web site