Tri-County Biofuel Symposium
The TCAA (Tri County Agricultural Area) is an area just North of Daytona and includes St. Johns, Putnam and Flagler counties. An area that has been traditionally rural and reliant on the paper and agricultural industries, TCAA organized with the local extension of the University of Florida’s IFAS program to present information on how the local communities may want to utilize some of its local talents and resources.
The program consisted of three tracks and packed a day full of information for anyone that wanted to attend. An overview of bio fuels and the basics of how they are made started the day. Ethanol, biomass, and bio diesel were all covered as potential enterprise.
Given the local expertise and crops the day funneled into two basic focuses. The first was bio mass and the several ways to convert wood and fiber into a synthetic gas (not liquid) or biodiesel products. The technology is there according to our universities. The process is readily definable and replicated. The processes are advanced in their efficiency on an ongoing basis. What it comes down to is stock and logistics. How do you collect or create enough base stock to make a viable commercial enterprise? What methods work the best? What crops yield the most? How do you get those materials to the first step of your process? Camelina, this moment’s best opportunity for Florida biodiesel, is about the size of grass seed. Pine trees are a preferred stock for biomass to energy conversion. There are a dozen other opportunities in between trees and seeds for several different accepted methods of converting plant materials to fuel.
The University of Auburn did quality presentations on bio mass conversion and bio diesel. There were several examples of food oils that have been used for bio diesel. Soy, canola, cotton seed, and sunflower are all good oils to make bio diesel. However, many people including Green Oil Solutions would prefer not to utilize food stocks so as to avoid the pitfalls that have occurred with corn and ethanol. We have discovered a few possibilities of plants that are not food that may be able to produce the right amount of yields to become stock oil. As mentioned before Camelina is an opportunity. Dr. Wright with UF’s IAFS shared some of his research comparing Camelina to Canola. The research showed strong possibilities but as he noted only has one year of data. We will need more research to know if it can be a viable solution for providing stock for biodiesel. The other crops that are getting mentioned are Jatropha and Kenaf both of which do not appear as suited for growing in Florida as Camelina. Other crops were rumored throughout the day but they are considered nuisance plants and pose political problems before their cultivation challenges can be discovered.
The day saw well over 75 in attendance, including students, elected officials, civil servants, farmers, and businesses and did what it was designed to do. Information/education and public inclusion are absolutely essential to building sustainable enterprise in the bio fuels industries. Green Oil Solutions thanks the Florida Energy Systems Consortium, UF’s IFAS for providing the public outreach.