June 10, 2005 | By: Laura Skillman
HOPKINSVILLE, Ky.

Two recent tours sponsored by the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture’s Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering showcased the renewable fuels industry in Kentucky.

The Kentucky Biodiesel Production Facilities Tour and the Kentucky Ethanol Production Facilities Tour included informational sessions then tours of two renewable fuel facilities – Griffin Industries’ Biodiesel Plant near Butler and Commonwealth Agri-Energy Ethanol Plant in Hopkinsville. These events were funded by a grant from the Southern States Energy Board. 

Extension Agricultural Engineer Sam McNeill said the tours were an effort to showcase some of the work being done by the state’s biofuels industry in developing clean fuels. There are five renewable fuel plants either in operation or under construction in the state.

The tour was coordinated by Czarena Crofcheck, also a UK biosystems and agricultural engineer.

“We have really had a great turnout from different areas. We had concerned citizens, state representatives and even some competing industries,” she said. “It’s been really fabulous, and everyone has been real receptive.”

One purpose of the tours was to help educate public officials of the renewable fuels industry in the state and what can be done to continue to grow the industry in Kentucky.

Crofcheck said from an academic standpoint, the tours were important to educate the public on renewable fuels and why they are important.

From a farmers’ perspective, it provides them with another use for their crops, McNeill said. In the United States, ethanol is produced primarily from corn while biodiesel production primarily uses soybeans. Various blends exist within each fuel, such as E85 which consists of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, or B20 which is 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel.

Mick Henderson, general manager of Commonwealth Agri-Energy, said opening his plant to tours is important.

“We are a cooperative-owned business and a locally owned business and there was a lot of public money used for this project, so we have to give back to the community and be a good community member,” he said. “Plus, we have to promote the business. This is a new and upcoming business that is so important to agriculture, the environment, state of Kentucky and the community. So we have to get the word out and this is one way do that – show off your wares.”

The UK-sponsored tours were a great service to agriculture and the industry, Henderson said. 

John Davies, with the Kentucky Office of Energy Policy, also complimented UK for putting the program together. 

“It has been a great opportunity to educate folks that have not been involved in biofuels about the opportunities available in Kentucky,” he said.

 

Contact: 

Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278

Contact: Czarena Crofcheck, 859-257-3000 ext.212
Sam McNeill, 270-365-7541 ext. 213