Environment & Energy

Poplars’ potential: Rathdrum Prairie grove part of study on cellulose-based biofuel

Seventy acres of poplars on the Rathdrum Prairie rustled in a hot, summer breeze, flashing silvery-green leaves.

Someday, cars and trucks could be running on fuel made from the trees.

A $40 million research project, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is studying poplars’ potential to produce cellulose-based biofuels. The grove north of Hayden is one of four test plots in the five-year project, which is being led by University of Washington researchers in cooperation with two private companies and five other colleges and universities.