Transcript


UT Research and Education Ctr.
Knoxville
Dr. Tim Rials
UT Agricultural Experiment Station


Dr. Kelly Tiller
UT Agricultural Policy Analysis Ctr.
Chuck Denney
UT Institute of Agriculture

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Chuck Denney
Fuel from a field. What looks like an ordinary, brown weed could someday be pumped into your gas tank. This is switchgrass, which can be converted into fuel or power. UT researchers grew this field in Knoxville, and thereís the potential for switchgrass to one day be a viable crop for Tennessee.

Dr. Kelly Tiller
The farmers benefit as they have an entirely new source of income through this entirely new crop.

Chuck Denney
Tennessee seeks to become a national leader in the production of biofuels. Researchers at UT are already working here, part of the Tennessee Biofuels Initiative, a project to reduce our dependence on foreign oil with fuel from the farm. The plan also calls to build a biorefinery plant near Knoxville. The main product here will be Grassoline, ethanol derived from plant materials.

Dr. Tim Rials
The goal of this pilot scale biorefinery is to produce five million gallons of ethanol per year, and to really emphasize switchgrass.

Chuck Denney
The Biofuels Initiative anticipates several biorefineries will be built statewide, and the economic impact will be huge - especially in rural Tennessee Ė millions in tax and ag revenue and lots of jobs.

Dr. Kelly Tiller
As these plants are constructed, there are jobs created building the plants, jobs created running the plants, jobs created from the co-products and other types of industries that develop around these major biorefineries.

Chuck Denney
Past efforts at producing ethanol mainly used grains and corn. But turning food crops into fuel might increase your grocery bill. Now researchers say biofuels can be made from just about any tree or plant, and we can use the bark, the leaves - several parts of the plant. Many Americans say theyíre ready for an alternative to foreign oil, and they like the idea that our farmers and landowners could supply the nationís fuel and energy. When it comes to biofuels, the big question many of us have Ė when?

Dr. Tim Rials
Itís not a pie-in-the-sky dream, by any stretch. Itís not going to happen next week, but no, itís not ten years out either. In fact, we feel like really two to three years to refine the technology.

Chuck Denney
Itís projected agriculture and forestry could produce as much as 30% of the nationís energy by the year 2030. Between now and then, thereís important research to do. The future is coming, and itís almost here. This is Chuck Denney reporting.

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NOTE: Governor Phil Bredesen proposed a $61 million alternative fuels package in his budget that includes funding for the UT Biofuels Initiative and the pilot Biorefinery.