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Jingxin Wang stands in a field

Rise of the Biomass

Under the scorching sun on a May afternoon, workers wipe the sweat from their brows between pounding 10-inch greenish-yellow stems into the soil on a patch of land at the West Virginia University Agronomy Farm. It’s one of many sites – not just in West Virginia but surrounding states – where visions of a future fueled by biomass are engrained into mainly forgotten lands. It’s a vision of alternative fuels and safer, sustainable products, all at an economical price-point. In the Mid-Atlantic region alone, more than 8.5 million acres of mined and marginal agricultural property are primed for reclamation, said Jingxin Wang, professor of wood science and technology. Left alone, it’ll remain vast, empty space.