Turning Beets to BioFuel on Delmarva - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Turning Beets to BioFuel on Delmarva

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PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - Superfoods are being harvested for supersonic purposes on the campus of University of Maryland, Eastern Shore in Somerset County.           

A group of students and scientists are exploring the idea that sugar beets, what they're calling energy beets, can be converted into jet fuel, with the Navy keeping a watchful eye.
 
"This is so exciting because it hasn't been done before," said Joanne Ivancic, Advanced Biofuels USA, a non-profit which was provided a $16,893 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to study the feasibility of turning beets into biofuels.
 
UMES is growing the beets on campus and working with Advanced Biofuels USA to see if this is economically and environmentally feasible.
 
"I feel there is great promise to this process," said Ivancic. "We cover projects all over the world, and this is one of the most promising, and it's exciting to be in our own backyard."
 
Scientists say beets produce 2.5 times the amount of biofuel than corn, just one of the economic benefits of beet production.
 
"We think that we can bring wealth and jobs to the eastern shore," said Bob Kozak, President of Atlantic Biomass. "As we all know this isn't the richest part of Maryland, and there really hasn't been a lot here to help people." 
 
At the ground level of this project are UMES students, who are learning all phases of the process, experience that could provide a long-term payoff.
 
"In the short term we train students to have the skills needed in the workforce to supply the worker needs in our region," said Jurgen Schwarz, a professor at UMES.

 

The Navy is following this project to see if they can increase efficiency without dramatically modifying their jets.
 
"We can't wait until we have sugar beet fuel on those Green Hornets so when you see an aircraft carrier pulling out of Norfolk and going out on 6-month patrol of the Persian Gulf and to know that those planes are flying fuel from here? How cool will that be?,"
said Kozak.

This bio-fuel has not actually been tested in a jet, and it could be a few years before it is known if this can be put to wide-spread use.

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