Alaska Sun Grant Activities

Alaska mountains

Alaska mountains in the fall

Unalakleet River

Unalakleet National Wild River

Biomass tree farm

Biomass tree farm

Canola field

Canola Field

Research in the areas of biofuels and bioproducts is a fairly new undertaking at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Scientists are focused on something Alaska has in abundance: wood - from managed forests, clearing for firebreaks at urban/wildland interfaces, and cultivated plantations. As a result, interest is increasing in biofuels research, including chips, pellets that use waste products, wood, and wood/coal combinations. Technologies for using these fuels include those adapted to homes, mid-size installations that might be appropriate for schools and smaller rural communities, and larger plants for use in urban areas and military bases. Work in this area will be in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Division of Forestry, and the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, a private group working as a university partner.

The UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences, Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station in partnership with an Alaska-based biotechnology firm, and the Cooperative Extension Service are exploring development of plant-based nutraceuticals from native Alaskan species and cultivated berries and vegetables. Alaska berries are higher in antioxidants than comparable berries at lower latitudes.

Finally, researchers at UAF’s School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences are conducting research on products from birch trees, an abundant genus in Alaska. The products of interest include birch sap and birch bark.

An important priority for Alaska’s Sun Grant-related work is to address the specific concerns and needs of remote rural populations and areas of common interest to urban communities such as energy supplies and sustainable economic development appropriate to smaller communities and Alaska’s remote location.