Vermeer Corp. is announced its involvement in a nearly $6 million grant award by the U.S. Department of Energy. The department is making the investment to reduce costs associated with harvesting, handling and preprocessing biomass feedstocks.

"This commitment gives Vermeer the opportunity to pull product development forward," said Jay Van Roekel, strategic business unit manager at Vermeer. "It gives focus to a developing product line, which will get the right solutions to a new market much faster."

The investment will focus on getting high impact, high quality feedstocks — such as corn stover and switchgrass — from field to biorefinery more efficiently and effectively. In total, it will build efforts to create more advanced harvesting and collection equipment in the field, and improved biomass handling and processing equipment for biorefineries.

The 16-member team named in the project represents industry, national laboratories, original equipment manufacturers and consulting companies who have established international reputations in the field of bioenergy and biomass production. Participants named along with Vermeer include Poet, ADM, Clariant USA, Monsanto, Pellet Technology USA, FDC Enterprises, Antares Group, Idaho National Lab, Virginia Tech, MacDon, Kelderman Manufacturing, Feedstox, Analytical Spectral Devices and B. Hames Consulting. A broader group of collaborators will also participate in the project’s activities.

By the completion of the three-year project timeframe, the team’s overarching goal is to develop a blue print for achieving the Department of Energy’s vision for second generation biomass supply systems while also opening additional opportunities in other biomass markets.