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April 17, 2009
By Mikalee Byerman
Nevada Senator Harry Reid toured the Nevada Greenhouse Complex Wednesday, learning about renewable energy and agriculture projects taking place in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno.
On the tour, Reid saw a biomass project that focuses on converting algae to biofuels and a collaborative greenhouse project where produce is grown using hydroponic methods. He praised the new greenhouse projects that are focused on renewable energy and the development of high-valued crops.
"This is what the university should be doing," Reid said in a press conference following the tour, "experiments that transmit to and benefit the public sector."
Dr. John Cushman, professor and director of CABNR's graduate program in biochemistry and molecular biology, showed Reid ponds growing halophytic green algae - algae that can grow in salt water that is two times as strong as sea water - and discussed its ability to produce oil and starch for biodiesel and ethanol production.
Reid then examined rabbit brush, a common native Nevadan plant, and discussed its ability to produce natural rubber with Dr. David Shintani, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology.
"We were honored to have Senator Reid join us and learn more about these and other critical projects," said Ron Pardini, acting dean of the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources. "Our brand new Greenhouse Complex is an invaluable resource for our professors, our students and the community that will help us improve processes and ultimately benefit society through leading-edge research and innovation."
The final stop on the tour was a visit to the Nevada Naturals hydroponic vegetable production greenhouse, a project currently underway in partnership with the Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station.
While there, the senator talked with Nevada Naturals owners Tom and John Blount and sampled hydroponically grown lettuce, discussing the application of hydroponic technology in Nevada and abroad.
"Nevada is blessed with enough geothermal, solar, wind and biomass resources to power a clean energy revolution," Reid said. "Renewable energy and efficiency means thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment in Nevada. That potential makes it exciting to see the next generation of clean energy industry leaders studying and gaining hands on experience in the production of clean energy right here at UNR."