Workshop suggests turning problems into biofuels

COLLEGE STATION The twin problems of too much feedlot manure and too many mesquite trees could be solved by converting them into renewable bioenergy products, Texas A&M University System agricultural researchers, engineers and commercialization experts suggested Friday.

The group met in a workshop following up the Texas A&M System energy conference, "The Energy Policy Act 2005: One Year Later," held Aug. 31 on the Texas A&M campus.

The group brainstormed potential federal initiatives in the energy field during the nearly four-hour session. Texas A&M faculty, staff and researchers from College Station, Vernon, Commerce and other system institutions participated. Federal initiatives are issues or areas the Texas A&M System is seeking action or funding from Congress or other federal agencies.

"We felt one of the best places to start producing biomass for renewable bioenergy feedstocks would be with materials we're already having to remove: feedlot manure and mesquites," said co-moderator Dr. William "Bill" Rooney, a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station plant breeder.

The discussion also included genetic manipulation of dedicated energy crops such as sorghum and the need for more involvement by engineers.

Experiment Station assistant agency director Dr. Bill McCutchen called for researchers to work together on formalizing the system's bioenergy efforts.

"We need to look at where are other areas for biomass in Texas," McCutchen said.

Other workshops examined fossil fuels for transportation, nuclear energy, electric power systems, energy efficiency and renewables and energy policy. Participants plan to write up their discussions for possible inclusion in the system's 2008 federal initiative process.

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