Biomass Workshop will address ethanol-related issues

By Hope Deutscher | June 03, 2009
Report posted June 4, 2009, at 2:49 p.m. CST

North Dakota's Agriculture Commissioner, Doug Goehring, will deliver the keynote address at Biomass '09: Power, Fuels, and Chemicals Workshop on July 14-15 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D.

According to the Energy & Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota, the workshop addresses the emerging opportunities for the economical production of power, transportation fuels and chemical feedstocks from biomass. This year's program will cover five main sessions focusing on trends and opportunities in utilizing biomass, biofuels, biomass feedstocks, and biomass for heat and electricity.

"The program is particularly intriguing this year because of the pressure on biofuels to compete economically," said Chris Zygarlicke, EERC deputy associate director for research. "For example, the American Coalition on Ethanol will update us on corn ethanol, which has come under heavy scrutiny lately, and both Poet and Abengoa will give a status report on the development of non-corn-based cellulosic ethanol technologies.

As well, Zygarlicke said, participants will hear from IF LLC and the Midwest Research Institute about algae as a biomass feedstock and Syntec Biofuel Inc. will discuss biofuels production technology. The workshop will also discuss producing fungible hydrocarbon fuels, particularly the first-ever 100 percent renewable jet fuel and diesel developed by the EERC.

According to the EERC, the program features more than 35 speakers representing all aspects of the biomass industry from across the country. The EERC expects more than 350 people to attend this year's biomass workshop, which includes a full tradeshow with more than 40 exhibitors. Last year's workshop attracted more than 290 participants from more than 30 states and two foreign countries (Canada and India).

"The production and utilization of energy and fuels derived from biomass sources represent significant opportunities for North Dakota and especially for our agricultural sector," Goehring said. "The EERC, through its ongoing research and now through this conference, provides key players and entities with the latest information they need to bring this promising technology into the marketplace."

Organizing sponsors of the Biomass '09 include the EERC and the U.S. DOE through the EERC's Centers for Renewable Energy and Biomass Utilization. The North Dakota Department of Commerce Division of Community Services State Energy Program is the Signature Sponsor.

The Biomass '09 Workshop is open to the public. For program information or to register, visit www.undeerc.org/biomass09.