By: Malcom Balfour

 BURNING WOOD to create power could be an amazingly simple answer to America’s fuel crisis, according to a prominent scientist. By 1980 we could have great cultivated forests, each with a power plant at the center generating massive amounts of electricity, says Dr. Clinton C. Kemp, a Virginia engineer.

For each tree chopped down, another fast-growing seedling would be planted, thus giving us an endless supply of wood, Dr. Kemp said in an exclusive interview. “The trees would be cut down and burned in boilers to generate steam that would turn electricity generators,’’ he said.  Not only would these “energy farms” pro-vide power at low cost, they also would be virtually pollution free, said Dr. Kemp.

“Huge, beautiful forests would provide a greener environment while at the same time helping solve the energy crisis. And with continuing rises in the cost of conventional fuels, I believe this system of “tree power” will become the cheapest one around,” he added. “The system will be very clean,” Dr. Kemp said, explaining that timber contains only a tiny fraction of the sulfur found in fossil fuels such as coal and oil. And the carbon dioxide given off is only the equivalent of the amount consumed by the trees during growth.

“The ash from burning the wood can be spread back on the ground as fertilizer for new trees,” he said. A forest 20 miles long and 10 miles wide would provide enough electricity for a city of 100,000. Dr. Kemp believes plenty of land is now available in America for the forests. The estimated growth period for the trees is 10 years. The engineer, who is vice-president of Inter-Technology Corp. of Warrenton, Va., said three corporations are presently interested in his plan.

One firm, already a large producer of wood products, “wants to discover whether it can use its existing forests to produce electrical power,” he said. The other two cor-porations — in Georgia and Missouri — want to know if it’s feasible to convert existing power stations to Dr. Kemp’s wood-burning system. Dr. Kemp said he’s been developing his plan since the early 1950s “and never has it seemed more appropriate than today.” 

In Washington, D.C., a spokesman for the Ford Foundation’s Chemurgic Council , tries to find better ways to apply technology to agriculture, said Dr. Kemp’s prop-osals “are realistic, serious, and deserve close examine.”

The council spokesman, senior spokesman and board member Sam Hoover, added: “We asked Dr. Kemp to deliver a paper on the subject and it was excellent. Council members were very interested in this highly original idea.”

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