Chrysler and MSU complete second year of growing biofuel crops on brownfield

Chrysler and Michigan State University have just completed the second year of a five-year development program for growing biofuel feed-stocks. In this case however, there is no threat of competing with food sources. The company and university are growing a mix of corn, soy beans, switch grass, canola and sunflowers on a two-acre plot that is part of former superfund site in Rose Township, MI. The site belonged to a former supplier of Chrysler and was used as a dump in the 1970s. The crops are being grown with a minimum of water and fertilizer. MSU Professor Kurt Thelen is analyzing the crops right now to determine the yields and how much of any contaminants might have been absorbed. One potential issue is the crops absorbing contaminants that might get passed through to the fuel. On the other hand, these sort of use of these sites could also help to clean them up and eventually make them useful for other purposes.

[Source: Chrysler]
Chrysler, Michigan State University Complete Second Year of Biofuels Research on Former Superfund Site

* Testing Production of Plants for Biofuels on Once-Polluted Land
* Analysis of Productivity, Fuel Quality Begins

Auburn Hills, Mich., Dec 11, 2007 - The collaboration between Chrysler LLC and a research team from Michigan State University (MSU) to test production of crops for renewable fuels has completed its second year of work at a former Superfund site in rural Michigan.

The MSU team has harvested its second year of five crops that are feedstocks for ethanol or biodiesel, the two major renewable fuels in use in the U.S. The crops include soybeans, sunflowers and canola for biodiesel production, and corn and switchgrass for making ethanol.

"The first year of the project in 2006 was our 'proof of concept' year. We demonstrated that we can grow these crops with minimal water, fertilizer and cultivation on once-polluted lands," said Professor Kurt Thelen of the MSU department of Crop and Soil Sciences.

"With our 2007 harvest, we can begin to measure productivity and start looking at the quantities and quality of the fuels produced on this site," Thelen said.

The crops are grown in small plots on the rolling undeveloped property in Rose Township, about 20 miles northwest of Chrysler headquarters in the Detroit area. Once farmland, the site was abandoned in the 1960s and used for the unauthorized disposal of waste materials. Chrysler, working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, has taken charge of the cleanup.

The test site for growing crops for fuels is part of the U.S. EPA's "Return to Use" program to encourage re-development of former Superfund sites that have undergone environmental cleanup.

"At Chrysler, we are committed to protecting the environment and to encouraging greater use of clean, renewable, American-made biofuels. This project supports both those commitments," said Deborah Morrissett, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs.

"While former Superfund sites may not be good for producing food for human consumption, they could be very useful in producing crops for renewable fuels," Morrissett said.

In addition to the Rose Township Superfund site, the research team is growing similar stands of fuel crops on the MSU campus and on two plots of marginally productive soil in northern Michigan.

With the 2007 crop harvested, the MSU team will spend the winter months analyzing the fuels produced for content, quality, and contaminants.

One additional benefit will be determining if the fuel crops absorbed remaining residual contaminants from the soil of the former Superfund site.

Chrysler's Environmental Initiatives

Chrysler supports the increased use of biodiesel and ethanol to:

* Reduce the nation's dependence on oil
* Reduce carbon dioxide/greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change
* Support the American agricultural economy
* Reduce tailpipe emissions of pollutants

For the 2008 model year, Chrysler offers 11 products with the E85 Flexible Fuel option:

* Dodge: Dakota, Ram, Durango, Avenger, Grand Caravan
* Chrysler: Aspen, Town & Country, Sebring sedan and convertible
* Jeep: Grand Cherokee, Commander

Chrysler also promotes the use of biodiesel in the JeepĀ® Grand Cherokee and the Dodge Ram and Sprinter diesel vehicles. All are approved for use with B5 (5 percent biodiesel) fuel; Grand Cherokees and Ram pickups are delivered to customers running on B5.

In addition, Chrysler has invested more than $10 billion over the past two decades to either refurbish existing sites or to prepare vacant sites for productive use.

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