Symposium focuses on biodiesel feedstock research

By Susanne Retka Schill | November 13, 2008
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Web exclusive posted Nov. 25, 2008 at 2:44 p.m. CST

A one-day symposium held in St. Louis on Nov. 21, titled "High Yield Pathways for Production," focused on recommendations to further biodiesel feedstock development. The Center for Evergreen Energy at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center sponsored the event, which covered near-term feedstocks, long-term feedstocks and algae.

Three researchers started the day with presentations, setting the stage for breakout discussions. Richard Sayre, director of the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels, described algae developments and his work to harvest oil from algae without harming the algae. Mike Edgerton, ethanol and quality traits technical lead at Monsanto Co., spoke about work to increase yields of current biofuel feedstocks. Robert Hendricks, senior technologist at the NASA Glenn Research Center, addressed the search to find feedstocks that tap into underutilized global resources such as saline-affected and marginal soils.

Fifty people, including researchers, policymakers and industry representatives attended the symposium to address the industry's future needs. Several participants joined the symposium after attending a meeting of the National Biodiesel Board's Sustainability Task Force. The discussions by the NBB task force defined some of the sustainability concerns needing to be addressed by the center's symposium.

A white paper detailing the discussion points and recommendations will be released in December, said Meredith Turk, project manager for new ventures at the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, one of the founders of the Center for Evergreen Energy. This was the first such gathering hosted by the Center for Evergreen Energy, a consortium of St. Louis BioBelt public and private institutions to provide market-driven solutions for biofuel production through research and proactive leadership.
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