Major research on biomass crops began at the University of Illinois with the development of a grant from C-FAR (the Illinois Council on Food and Agriculture.

The Special Research Initiative is a research initiative which aims to provide Illinois with the foundation, technology, and leadership for large-scale cultivation of biomass crops. Researchers are focusing on the use of Miscanthus, a perennial rhizomatous grass, as a potential renewable energy source for Illinois and profitable alternative crop for Illinois producers.

The Special Research Initiative is overseen by Dr. Stephen P. Long as it’s principal investigator under which more than fifteen researchers are investigating topics ranging from breeding and improvement to social acceptability of energy crops to thermochemical conversion of biomass fuels.

The SRI was established through a five year grant from the Illinois Council on Food and Agriculture Research or C-FAR through it’s Stratigic Research Initiative Program.

In it’s charter the SRI defined 10 major research goals these have developed significantly over the past 4 years and this development is detailed to the right.

Through the SRI we hope to provide IL with a basis for a new crop system, diversifying land use, increasing profitability, energy security, and benefiting the environment. Establish IL R & D leadership linking and building on strengths in six UIUC departments. Gain a stakeholder network of growers/landowners, power producers, agribusiness, advisers and researchers.