SUNY ESF has a Woody Biomass Program, which focuses on willow biomass ( ESF has teamed up with over 20 organizations over the last two decades to facilitate the commercialization of willow and other woody biomass for use as bioenergy and bioproducts in the NE and Midwest US. Tim Volk (p: 315-470-6774, e: is the main contact at ESF, and is still doing a lot of work on willow as a woody biomass crop, as well as on woody biomass from natural forests. They have started to do some work on pelletizing willow, and are looking at various processes to enhance the value of willow for pellets and other heating applications.

Larry Smart, Associate Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University worked at ESF for 13 years (, web: ), his main role being to oversee the breeding program, to hybridize, to test for varieties with improved yield as well as pest resistance. Working with Tim Volk they have been planting willow around New York State, North America, and Europe. They have also been involved in analyzing biomass composition for the purpose of selecting for certain attributes that make willow better for liquid fuel and ethanol.

According to Smart, the only functional small-scale pelletizer is at EnviroEnergy. The Millers have pelleted wood, says Smart, and are currently playing around with grass mixed with wood. As far as Smart has heard, pure grass pellets may not burn too well, and it may be better to mix them with wood.

All of the plants used by ESF are exclusively licensed by Dennis Rak at Double A Vineyards. Double A Vineyards, says Smart, has sold planting stock to anyone growing willow in North America. He also believes they are doing business development and getting into the business of harvesting and consolidating biomass.

Last updated June 6, 2018