The National Forest Foundation has announced that a team led by Kalispell native Stephen Jenkins was awarded the runner-up prize in this year’s Barrett Foundation Business Concept Challenge.
The competition awards prizes to the best entrepreneurial approaches that solve one or more of the challenges facing America’s 193-million-acre National Forest System.
Jenkins heads up the Biomass to Biomethanol Through Forest Remediation team at the University of Montana.
The project uses low-value woody biomass from forest thinning and lumber mill operations to create methanol and liquid carbon dioxide. Methanol is used in a number of industrial applications and liquid carbon dioxide is used in various food products and by other industries.
Jenkins’ team will receive $25,000 in prize money.
“Both teams demonstrate a unique approach to removing a major barrier preventing more restoration work on our national forests,” said Leslie Weldon, deputy chief of the National Forest System. “By creating a market for these byproducts of forest restoration, the winning teams help create new opportunities for the Forest Service to achieve healthier forests and stimulate local economies.”
First place went to California-based Charborn, which uses biochar, an industrial byproduct, as a soil amendment for agricultural industries.
Biochar allows farmers to boost yields while using less water and fertilizer.