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.
North Carolina's Growing Strengths: East Carolina University
East Carolina University associate professor Baohong Zhang is currently working on cutting-edge approaches to increasing feedstock yields of Switchgrass for biofuels. Dr. Zhang and his collaborators have found that Switchgrass biomass can be significantly increased by modifying a single small regulatory molecule, called microRNA. The Switchgrass that Zhang is working with has more leaves and a higher tolerance to environmental stressors. The team found that many small regulatory RNAs and their targeted protein-coding genes are expressed when Switchgrass seedlings are exposed to drought and salinity stresses.
By targeting these kinds of molecules in unique ways, it will be possible to increase the biomass yield of biofuels feedstock crops. The initial results obtained by Zhang and colleagues have already been published in peer-reviewed journals. Both graduate students and undergraduate students are involved in the biofuels-related projects. The students are learning to use 21st-century methods to improve crop biomass as well to improve plant tolerance to environmental biotic and abiotic stresses, including drought and salinity. Zhang also brings his expertise to his Plant Biotechnology course, which is offered each fall semester.
Dr. Zhang’s biofuels research is a significant component of the East Carolina University Interdisciplinary Biotechnology Initiative (IBI), in which new collaborations are being encouraged and multidisciplinary research projects developed for the state’s biotechnology industries, including the biofuels sector.
To learn more about Dr. Zhang's biofuels research and other projects, click here.
Biofuels Community Symposium set for February
The Biofuels Center of North Carolina and the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) will hold a joint symposium on Friday, 8 February 2013, from 1 to 4 p.m. to highlight facilities, services, and other resources that add value for the commercialization of new technologies for biofuels and related bioproducts. The free event, Strengthening and Serving a Growing Biofuels Community, will be held at North Carolina’s Biofuels Campus in Oxford.
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- Congressman Kissell visits Center for briefing