Advanced Biofuels USA has received a grant to conduct a feasibility study of producing biojet fuel from Maryland grown energy beets. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has allocated $16,893 for the study that will review the technical, economic aspects and co-product opportunities of a project in development by the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) along with Purdue University and several Maryland small businesses. The goal of the project is to develop bio-based products such as biofuels produced on the Eastern Shore to replace traditional jet fuel.
As part of the study UMES will explore the uptake of Eastern Shore legacy phosphates by the energy beets. Should this be feasible, the beets-to-biojet fuel project could be a cost-effective approach to reducing Chesapeake Bay nutrient runoff issues. In addition, the researchers will be reviewing the opportunities to use the proteins from the biomass to produce high value poultry feed or other animal feeds.
As mentioned, several Maryland companies will be participating in the project including energy beets (not for human consumption) that only require minimal energy inputs developed by Plant Sensory Systems of Baltimore, Maryland. The energy beets will be coupled with an enzyme conversion system that utilizes the entire biomass of the energy beet root, including biomass ignored during conventional sugar production developed by Atlantic Biomass, LLC and Hood College.
Ultimately, the objective of the Advanced Biofuels USA study is to determine if the 1st stage data produced from the UMES energy beet pilot crop and commercial simulation processing shows that the crop and supply-chain have enough yield and production advantages that investments should be made to overcome hurdles identified in the feasibility analysis in order to take the project to commercialization.
Lastly, the energy beet feasibility study will look at priorities identified in the White House’s National Science and Technology Council’s report Federal Alternative Jet Fuels Research and Development Strategy that include answering the three questions: Does this approach to advanced biofuel production have the basic elements to improve the rural economic conditions of the Eastern Shore counties of Maryland? Can this process be optimized to improve job creation and profit opportunities? and Can the project reduce the cost of meeting Maryland Chesapeake Bay nutrient remediation costs?