North Carolina's Growing Strengths: Forest Equipment Operator Program
With help from numerous partner groups, the N.C. Association of Professional Loggers (NCAPL) trains individuals for 16 weeks in all aspects of logging safety and health, equipment operation, and environmental compliance through the state’s first Forest Equipment Operator program. As woody biomass will play a significant role in North Carolina’s biofuels sector, the Biofuels Center contributed funding to develop this world-class training curriculum.
The Forest Equipment Operator program launched in 2012 and is designed to provide the technical and practical knowledge necessary to become a skilled forest equipment operator in the logging industry. Training takes place in the classroom as well as on live training sites using hands-on applications. Operating equipment provided by Caterpillar Forest Products and supported by Pioneer Gregory Poole Forest Products, students train on new skidders, fellerbunchers, log loaders, and crawlers on real logging jobs.
The program offers training across eastern North Carolina and will expand statewide over time. Pitt Community College in Greenville hosted the two sessions completed last year. The NCAPL seeks to expand into the northeastern region of the state and work with several other community colleges in 2013.
Upon completion, students are made available for job interviews with North Carolina businesses. Those who complete the program are qualified to assume responsibilities as entry-level forest equipment operators. Graduates also possess the necessary abilities and understanding to continue on-the-job experiences until they acquire specific skills and performance levels to be accomplished operators.
The program is community-based training for North Carolinians who want to have a quality job and career in their own community. Enrollment is limited but all qualifying applicants will be considered, including current employees who need training as well as those with construction, landscaping, agricultural, military, and other backgrounds. Tuition assistance is available to qualifying individuals.
Momentum builds after second annual Civic and Small-scale Biofuels Convening
The Biofuels Center received incredibly positive feedback from its 13 December 2012 event, Civic and Small-scale Biofuels Statewide: A Second Annual Convening of Civic, Production, and Agency Parties. The event, held at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, assembled a range of leaders from the biofuels community who shared experiences and triggered ideas for developing successful biomass and biofuels production projects that are smaller in scale. The second yearly gathering attracted more than 80 participants—nearly double last year's attendance—ranging from biodiesel producers to municipal wastewater treatment facility managers.
Dr. Richard Reich, assistant commissioner of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, addressed the audience and made the case that biofuels production will be critical to farmers as they seek new markets. “This is a promising project because [biofuels] feedstock crops give the agriculture community options,” he said.
A number of different approaches were presented, outlining practical solutions to make small-scale biofuels both efficient and effective. Use of marginal land, local crushing operations, and effective ways to collect and recycle waste oil locally were some of the solutions presented by panelists actively practicing these approaches.
Click here to view presentations from the event.
North Carolina's Growing Strengths: Custom Equipment Solutions (CESCO)
Custom Equipment Solutions (CESCO) is a Matthews, N.C.-based company that offers a complete line of equipment and modular process systems for the production of second- and third-generation biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel. CESCO’s capabilities include the engineering and design-build aspects of equipment and modular system supply of pilot plant, demonstration-scale, and large-scale biofuels production. CESCO works closely with design-build partner Integrated Process Engineers & Constructors, Inc. for the project execution phases of their projects.
On a recent developmental pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol project, CESCO was involved in supplying a laboratory with turnkey seed fermenter systems. These systems are utilized by a major facility in North Carolina to develop next-generation enzymes, which provide the critical conversion step for turning sugars from cellulosic sources into ethanol. The systems include modular stainless steel laboratory benches with integrated mixer and fermenter systems. The system also incorporates all the pre-piped utility systems, including steam and clean-in-place (CIP) capability.
From biotech clean rooms and chemical plants to pulp and paper mills, CESCO is well-positioned to make an impact on North Carolina biofuels production from locally grown feedstocks. With more than 17.6 million acres of managed woody biomass in North Carolina—much of it in the western part of the state—CESCO is also ideally located near Charlotte for wood-to-fuel projects. As CESCO is additionally capable of incorporating its expertise into energy grass-to-fuel projects likely to occur in eastern North Carolina, the company has a wide range of business development opportunities across the state.
To find out more about CESCO, visit www.gocesco.com.
Biofuels Center to host second civic and small-scale biofuels convening in Greensboro
On 13 December 2012 in Greensboro, the Biofuels Center will host Civic and Small-scale Biofuels Statewide: A Second Annual Convening of Civic, Production, and Agency Parties. The event will be held at North Carolina A&T State University from 10:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. Communities statewide have potential to benefit through locally produced fuels, economic gain, and environmental advantage.
A range of leaders from the biofuels community will share experiences and trigger ideas for developing successful biomass and biofuels production projects that are smaller in scale. Last year, more than 50 people attended the convening, ranging from biodiesel producers to municipal wastewater treatment facility managers, and from military representatives to state government officials.
Case studies representing different vantage points or outcomes will reveal common ground as well as problem-solving and practical solutions. A framework for evaluating usefulness and shaping outcomes for local production will be conveyed and discussed. A tour of the biofuels research and development facilities at the N.C. A&T Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering will be offered.
North Carolina's Growing Strengths: REPREVE Renewables
Formed in 2010, Greensboro, N.C.-based REPREVE Renewables LLC is a commercial supplier of Giant Miscanthus, an energy grass with prime potential for biofuels production. The company’s variety, Freedom Giant Miscanthus, is an energy grass developed for superior yield in the southeastern United States, a crop that grows with low inputs and on low-quality soils. With a stand life of more than 10-15 years, the grass can grow to more than 12 feet tall and can yield up to 20 tons per acre. For the southeastern U.S., it is a viable crop for liquid renewable fuels, biomass power, and as a source of renewable chemicals and plastics.
A perennial, non-invasive crop, Giant Miscanthus has long been considered a superior renewable energy crop but one that is expensive to get established. The mission of Repreve Renewables is to break down barriers to planting viable biofuel feedstocks on a commercial scale. Over the last several years, the company has developed planting systems, agronomic practices, harvesting techniques, and storage strategies to make Freedom Giant Miscanthus a truly commercial crop. By utilizing its vast agronomic, manufacturing, and engineering resources, Repreve Renewables has become the first company able to deploy non-seeded energy grasses on a large scale.
By making planting material readily available and planting techniques more efficient, Repreve has made the crop more cost-effective than ever before and, in turn, more promising for growers. As Freedom Giant Miscanthus is economically attractive, it becomes viable as a fossil-fuel replacement for fuel producers while revitalizing agricultural communities seeking profitable crops on low-value land.
In 2012, Freedom Giant Miscanthus was named one of the USDA’s two crops approved for use under the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) in North Carolina for conversion to ethanol by Chemtex International. The Chemtex facility will use several locally grown crops, but only Freedom Miscanthus and Switchgrass were eligible for special economic incentives for establishment through the USDA program.
For more information, visit www.repreverenewables.com.
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