State committee’s ruling on Switchgrass advances biofuels in NC
In late May the state’s interagency group charged with providing guidance for North Carolina’s animal waste management rules, otherwise known as the 1217 Committee, issued a recommendation that will allow for the increased planting of Switchgrass as a biofuels feedstock crop. The 1217 Committee’s decision increased the interim agronomic rates for the planting of Switchgrass, which will allow swine farmers in eastern North Carolina the option of planting Switchgrass on land currently utilized for animal waste management.
The 1217 Committee—comprised of representatives from N.C. State University, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources—has worked over the last two years to facilitate the introduction of new energy crops onto animal waste sprayfields, while at the same time ensuring environmental compliance.
Switchgrass is a high-yielding, perennial grass native to the Southeast that can be used as a pasture, forage, or biomass crop. Switchgrass has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a biofuels feedstock and will serve as an important crop in the biofuels supply chain as the industry grows in North Carolina.
North Carolina's Growing Strengths: The Biofuels Center's Statewide Woody Biomass Project
The Biofuels Center of North Carolina has completed its statewide woody biomass assessment—the first report of its kind. The Center coordinated with Raleigh-based Gelbert, Fullbright & Randolph (GFR) Forestry Consultants and the state’s seven economic development regions in 2011 to undertake the now-complete, three-part analysis of the state’s wood resources as foundation for large biofuels production.
North Carolina has approximately 17.6 million forested acres, more than half its land mass, and 90 percent is privately owned. With abundant wood markets and diminished manufacturing productivity, especially in North Carolina’s rural counties, the state has significant opportunities to harness its renewable, natural resources and develop new, economically sustainable economies.
For each of the state’s seven economic development regions, and in partnership with them, the Statewide Woody Biomass Project report details the three-part analysis, which:
- Quantifies wood resources in every county of the state to include price points for both softwoods and hardwoods, past and projected land use changes, and regional competition for the wood;
- Determines the best location for biofuels industrial sites based on the Phase 1 quantifications, and assesses the infrastructure for their appropriateness for biofuels production; and
- Refines further the wood resources to support bankable data for each location, appropriate for project financing that quantifies the sustainable annual feedstock available for biofuels production.
“This has never been done by any state to our knowledge, certainly not on this scale, and it is unheard of in the forest management industry,” said Terry Godwin, harvest forester with GFR Forestry Consultants, the lead developer for the analysis. “With this assessment, the Biofuels Center will bring an incredible advantage to North Carolina when competing for biofuels companies.”
Biofuels Center president and CEO Steven Burke emphasized the significance of assessing statewide wood resources for biofuels production. “North Carolina’s wood resources are key to our successfully gaining large biofuels capacity,” said Burke. “This study quantifies and makes real our ability to support wood-to-fuels technology companies—and gives us large competitive advantage to bring them here over many years.”
Regional wood information and details about locations for biofuels industrial sites can be accessed here.
North Carolina's Growing Strengths: Triangle Biofuels Industries
Based in Wilson, Triangle Biofuels Industries produces biodiesel derived primarily from waste vegetable oils (WVO) obtained from local sources. Its target markets are agricultural, marine, residential, governmental, and commercial diesel consumers looking for cleaner diesel alternatives to fossil fuels. Triangle Biofuels’ production facility became fully operational in April 2008, produced approximately 1.25 million gallons of 100-percent, ASTM-certified biodiesel in 2012, and has the potential to produce 3 million gallons per year. The company expects to produce around 2 million gallons in 2013.
As one of the few biodiesel plants operating in eastern North Carolina, Triangle Biofuels invests significant effort in outreach to agricultural and off-road diesel customers educating them about the health and performance benefits of biodiesel. TBI collects WVO from numerous municipal and county schools, solid waste facilities, and wastewater treatment plants in a cooperative agreement to encourage recycling and help reduce buildup of fats, oils, and greases (FOG) in municipal sewers. Not only does this collection process produce biofuels, it helps turn waste streams into sustainable, highly efficient systems.
Triangle Biofuels also operates a B100 and B20 retail pump at the plant to make biodiesel more readily available to the local community and motoring public. Additionally, Triangle Biofuels encourages biodiesel use by leading by example: The company incorporated biodiesel into all of its fleet vehicles, and many employees drive B100-fueled vehicles.
TBI has recently undertaken the process of becoming BQ-9000 certified. Recent upgrades to equipment and the facility have improved both production capacity and consistency in quality control.
For more information on Triangle Biofuels Industries, visit www.trianglebiofuels.com.
North Carolina's Growing Strengths: BlackGold Biofuels of Charlotte
BlackGold Biofuels of Charlotte, located in Charlotte, N.C., specializes in resource recovery from wastewater streams, focusing on the recycling of fat, oil, and grease-laden wastewaters from commercial kitchens and food processors. BlackGold uses the best available technologies to recover the highest economic and environmental value from these waste streams.
This innovative recycling facility in Charlotte receives grease trap waste that is generated in commercial kitchens during dishwashing and food preparation from local wastewater haulers. BlackGold removes trash and food particles from this wastewater and then extracts and purifies the recovered animal and vegetable fats, oils, and grease. The recovered oils are utilized in the production of biofuels, which offsets the use of petroleum-based fuels and strengthens regional energy security and domestic energy independence. The operating facility is fully permitted by state and local agencies.
The BlackGold facility reduces the burden on the region’s wastewater treatment plants by cleaning the water after it has been discharged from the commercial restaurants and before it reaches the local wastewater treatment plant. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency names blockages from this grease as a top culprit in sewer overflows nationwide, and a 2011 report from the Biofuels Center of North Carolina in conjunction with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities estimates this grease is responsible for more than 50 percent of Charlotte-area overflows. Currently in the U.S., grease trap waste is often landfilled or spread on fields.
BlackGold Biofuels, the developer behind BlackGold Biofuels of Charlotte, is based in Philadelphia where the company is building a network of these recycling facilities throughout the Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions. Additional North Carolina facilities are under development in Winston-Salem and Raleigh.
To find out more about BlackGold Biofuels, visit www.blackgoldbiofuels.com.
North Carolina's Growing Strengths: The Perennial Grass Grower Assistance Program
The Perennial Grass Grower Assistance program was established in 2011 by N.C. State University with funding by the Biofuels Center of North Carolina to support the expansion of biomass acreage for biofuels production in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. The program provides direct assistance to farmers and landowners by providing minimal cost to access equipment, crop materials, and labor to support the establishment of perennial biomass. Biomass types that can be established under this program are Switchgrass and Giant Miscanthus. Each grass should provide a 10-year minimum of biomass production following establishment with yields of more than seven dry tons per acre annually.
The impetus for this program is that the cost of establishing perennial grasses is the most expensive aspect of biomass production. Markets for these biomass materials are still emerging and the initial economic return opportunities may be marginal in the immediate years after establishment, so the Perennial Grass Grower Assistance program aims to spur grass production in the Piedmont at reduced costs. The program will provide direct establishment support, including: land preparation, necessary chemical applications through the first six months of establishment, and grass planting.
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- Biofuels Community Symposium set for February
- North Carolina's Growing Strengths: Forest Equipment Operator Program
- Momentum builds after second annual Civic and Small-scale Biofuels Convening
- North Carolina's Growing Strengths: Custom Equipment Solutions (CESCO)
- Biofuels Center to host second civic and small-scale biofuels convening in Greensboro
- North Carolina's Growing Strengths: REPREVE Renewables
- Biofuels Center president to address international green energy conference in Greensboro
- Patterson Science Center approves demonstration plot
- North Carolina's Growing Strengths: The F3 Program