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Beat Goes On For Energy Beets

Beat Goes On For Energy Beets
The Green Vision Group's beet-to-ethanol project isn't dead. It recently received an infusion of money to finance more research and development.

A project that would make ethanol from energy beets took another step forward recently.

The North Dakota Renewable Energy Council awarded the biofuel project a two-year $500,000 million grant.

The Green Vision Group will use the money to:

establish a U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency multiperil crop insurance program for energy beets.

engineer and evaluate new front-end energy beet processing methods.

expand regional energy beet research trials.

scale up whole-energy beet and juice storage technology to enable year-round processing.

inform producers, community developers and the biofuel industry of the emerging opportunity.

12 plants around North Dakota

"We envision developing at least 12 sustainable ethanol facilities across North Dakota," says Maynard Helgaas, GVG president. "Each plant will use energy beets grown within a 20-mile radius and support job creation in rural communities. This grant will help us make significant progress toward that vision and help develop North Dakota's energy beet biofuel industry."

GVG is in the process of selecting the location for its first processing facility, which is expected to produce 20 million gallons of ethanol per year once complete.

The first phase of the energy beet project focused on research, including yield trials, storage research and commercially testing the use of a co-product to provide processing heat. Current yield trials are in Dazey/Hannaford, Turtle Lake, Langdon, Minot, Williston, Carrington and Oakes. In 2012, trial plots will be expand to include Jamestown, Harvey, Litchville and Colgate. The yield trials will continue to be sponsored by Betaseed and Syngenta.

The plot trial research results in phase 1 exceeded expectations, according to Blaine Schatz, Carrington REC director.

"So far, our research shows that energy beets can be grown successfully outside of the Red River Valley in a variety of soil types and conditions," Schatz says. "The beets actually help growers improve soil health and give them greater farm income."

"Ethanol produced from energy beets can be sold at a premium," says Cole Gustafson, NDSU Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics chair. "We expect that energy beet ethanol will produce 50-60% less greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum-based fuels, which will designate it as an advanced biofuel. We are working to finalize the life-cycle analysis of energy beets through a formal Environmental Protection Agency application. Securing EPA approval of energy beets as an advanced biofuel will mean a significant premium for producers and processors in the sugar-based ethanol market."

Source: NDSU Communications
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