Monday, January 17, 2011

REPREVE Renewables Hosts Freedom brand Giant Miscanthus Field Day, January 13, 2011

Phillip Jennings with potted Freedom brand Giant Miscanthus 

What is Phillip Jennings growing?
He's growing biomass.

Biomass is a term for organic materials (plant and animal) used as renewable energy.
Examples of biomass are: waste materials including human waste, wood such as pine tops and wood chips, and crops such as Freedom brand Giant Miscanthus produced by Jennings in Georgia his associates of REPREVE Renewables in Mississippi. 

What are you going to do with that miscanthus when you cut and bale it?
It has the same uses of any other biomass.  It can be burned to drive turbines or electric generators.  It can be chemically converted to fuels such as ethanol and methanol.

Approximately 150 people from near and far attended the information sessions and field day events
Almost 150 people from Treutlen County, other parts of Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Kansas and other states and foreign countries convened at the building where the late Manning Mimbs packed Vidalia Onions.  Two high-powered heaters kept the big building warm.  The main wall decorations were a "Welcome to Treutlen County" banner and two signs promoting the Superbowl of a few years ago on which the field was sodded with Jennings famous turf.  Otherwise, it seemed like an Atlanta conference center with comfortable tables and chairs and professional sound and Powerpoint equipment.

Coffee, water, soft drinks, doughnuts and other pastries were enjoyed while checking in at 8:30 a.m.
A line of dynamic speakers began presentations at nine o'clock and continued until barbecue lunch catered by Sonny's.

Bricks of Freedom brand Giant Miscanthus
Two commercial buses transported everybody to two different fields, a smaller one at Gillis Springs with tall miscanthus ready for harvesting, and a huge one along I-16 with access from U. S. 221 which was filled with miscanthus at various stages on various soils.

Mississippi State University with 10 or 12 years experience with Giant Miscanthus has developed the Freedom brand, which is superior to ordinary miscanthus.  It has been tested to grow from 30% to 60% higher yields  than others.  It was developed to thrive in the Southeastern United States. It was named Freedom to help bring fuel independence to our country.

Communications department of Mississippi State University sent several personal to document the event.
Each month, America consumes nearly $30 billion fossil fuels, most of which are imported.

Freedom brand outperforms other "energy grasses" with harvested yields of up to 25 tons per acre.  It produces more fuel per acre than corn, wood or switchgrass.  Also, it's considered a "carbon-negative" energy source.  According to public data, wood (which has been used at the Range Fuels plant in Soperton) has half the BTUs of Freedom Giant Miscanthus (on dry matter basis). Wood has 40-55% moisture, compared to 10-15%. Wood in a 24 year rotation produces only 4 to 8 tons per acre per year. Switchgrass has a BTU rate equal to miscanthus, but it produces only 4 to 10 tons compared the Freedom's 20 to 25 tons per year.

Video cameras captured the cutting and baling on Shady Lane at Gillis Springs
We've posted a few photos to illustrate, but all 170 shots are available on the E-NEWS slide show which will be on the blog for a short time; also they may be examined by the following link:
Everyone is invited to comment on the pictures to identify or explain.

Freedom Giant Miscanthus can grow to 12 or 14 feet (see photos). It's higher than your standard ceiling. Moisture content at harvest is 10-15%.

Freedom takes a smidgen of fertilizer to get started, but it re-grows in subsequent years without need for fertilizer. 

Miscanthus is not grown from seed, so it stays contained to its field.  It comes from a rhizome (a term familiar to those who've cultivated the beautiful irises of springtime).  They look like little worms (see photo of them in farm planter).

No tillage is required, and as the plants grow up they create shade to inhibit weeds.  There are no known pests or diseases for Freedom.

Once established Freedom can continuing yielding up to 20 years. Harvest can be accomplished from late fall through late winter.  The demonstration last Thursday showed one machine cutting  the plants just above ground level and a baling machine following.  The bales (see photos) weight about 800 pounds each.

One of the largest cleared fields in the county  has Freedom Giant Miscanthus at various stages and conditions.

Landowners are offered financial assistance in the BCAP program (Biomass Crop Assistance Program).  Eligible growers can receive up to 75% in establishment costs.  Annual payments provided for up to 5 years for establishment. Dollar for dollar matching payments are available at time of sale (up to $45 per ton) during the first two years.

The federal government has provided a goal of 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022. The total includes corn ethanol, which has been capped at 15 billion, leaving 21 billion advanced biofuels from renewable resources - Freedom Giant Miscanthus being one.

Liquid fuels made from cellulosic sources, like Freedom, are mandated by the EPA and will require a significant amount of energy crops to be grown in this country.

Freedom Giant Miscanthus Field
Gillis Springs Road top
I-16 middle
GA 86 bottom

Contact information for 
REPREVE Renewables:
6311 GA Highway 86
Soperton, GA 30457
International: 912-529-6938

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1 comment:

cheree said...

Nice coverage on Freedom...and also, what mix is Marlee? She looks just like our dog, Booger--a pound puppy--and we've always wondered what breeds make up a Booger. Airedale, yes, but what else?