Renewable Fuels Topic Of Workshop Sept. 27 In Austin

Sept. 26, 2000

by LoAna Lopez

High fuel costs, ever increasing demand and ever increasing dependency on imported oil have heightened interest in the local production of clean-burning alternative fuels.

The potential of ethanol as an agricultural end product and as a fuel for Texas brings the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fuels Development, the Western Regional Biomass Energy Program and agricultural, energy and environmental agencies together at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, for a workshop titled "Renewable Fuels for Rural Economic Development & Clean Air in Texas: A Rural-Urban Partnership." The workshop will be held at the Omni Hotel in Austin.

The workshop will address issues relating to the production and use of ethanol fuel in Texas and highlight market prospects, environmental and economic benefits and policy requirements for industry development.

Since Texas does not currently produce ethanol, it imports the fuel from other states. There are, however, adequate agricultural resources in Texas to produce ethanol, according to workshop organizers.

In addition to the workshop, there will be a display of ethanol-powered vehicles outside the Omni Hotel. Baylor's renowned Renewable Aviation Fuels Development Center (RAFDC) and Ford North America, via the Texas Farm Bureau, have combined to present some vehicles already on the road in Central Texas which could be running on ethanol if the fuel was locally available in an oxy-diesel or gasoline blend.

The RAFDC will present its most successful research at the workshop -- the use of ethanol in general aviation. This research has resulted in Federal Aviation Administration certification of a range of light aircraft which may be powered by ethanol instead of Avgas.

Other display vehicles include the first and fourth place winners of the prominent Ethanol Vehicle Challenge, a competition among 16 U.S. and Canadian universities and colleges. Student teams reengineered Chevrolet Silverado 4x4 pickup trucks to run on E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

The U.S. uses more than 1.7 billion gallons of ethanol today, either in low blends (up to 10 percent) for standard gasoline powered engines or in high blends (up to 85 percent) in the flexible fuel vehicles. Ethanol primarily is used in the Environmental Protection Agency's clean air programs to reduce automobile pollution.

State agencies within agriculture, economic development, natural resources, environmental protection, energy and transportation, as well as fleet managers, elected officials, community leaders and the general public are encouraged to attend the workshop.

For more information, contact Pam Groce at the State Energy Conservation Office at (512) 463-1889 or by e-mail at pam.groce@cpa.state.tx.us . To register, contact the workshop coordinators at Bryan & Bryan Inc. (BBI) at (800) 567-6411 or visit their website at www.bbiethanol.com .

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