Advanced Biofuels USA wins grant for beet-to-jet fuel project

By Advanced Biofuels USA | September 13, 2016

The USDA has provided $16,893 to Advanced Biofuels USA, a Maryland-based 501(c)3 nonprofit educational organization, for a feasibility study of producing bio-jet fuel from energy beets grown on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The study will look at the technical and economic aspects of a project being developed by the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Purdue University, and Maryland small businesses. Also of importance to the economic feasibility of this project are co-products that can provide economic opportunities to rural communities on the Eastern Shore when jet fuel prices are low due to fluctuating petroleum markets.

In addition, UMES will explore the uptake of Eastern Shore legacy phosphates by the energy beets. If this can be demonstrated, the beets-to-bio-jet fuel project could be a cost-effective approach to reducing Chesapeake Bay nutrient runoff from the long-term use of poultry litter as fertilizer.

Also, UMES will be looking at using the proteins from the biomass as potential high value poultry feed or other animal feed.

Unique Maryland-based innovations of the bio-jet fuel project include non-food, low nutrient input energy beets developed by Plant Sensory Systems LLC of Baltimore and a proprietary enzyme conversion system that utilizes the entire biomass of the energy beet root, including biomass ignored during conventional sugar production. This process has been developed by Atlantic Biomass LLC and Hood College, both located in Frederick, Maryland.

The objective of the Advanced Biofuels USA study is to determine if the fist 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.

In addition, 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. The funding of this feasibility study by the Maryland/Delaware USDA Office of Rural Development is part of the action plan USDA, the Departments of Energy, Transportation, and the US Navy are following to develop sustainable biobased jet fuel to replace fossil fuel without the need to modify aircraft engines and fuel distribution infrastructures. Priorities included for analysis by this study will include:

1. Does this approach to advanced biofuel production have the basic elements to improve the rural economic conditions of the Eastern Shore counties of Maryland?

2. Can this process be optimized to improve job creation and profit opportunities?

3. Can the project reduce the cost of meeting Maryland Chesapeake Bay nutrient remediation costs?