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GoGreenET Achievers nominations open

We're looking to tell the stories of companies that have made significant progress in recycling/waste reduction, energy efficiency, renewable energy and community outreach, or in another area we may not have even considered.

We're looking for a specific project, process change or initiative in each category that can be used as a model for other organizations.

The nomination form can be found here. The deadline to submit a nomination is March 20. 

Winners will be featured in the Greater Knoxville Business Journal's May issue.


Vonore-based biomass supply company Genera Energy has created a mobile crop planning and learning tool for the biomass industry.

"Often times it's very difficult to help technology users to understand the intricacies of the different biomass crops that are available for their use," said Sam Jackson, vice president of business development for Genera.

The app should help both growers of feedstock and users of the resulting biomass product -- whether that's actually as fuel or as an ingredient in plastics, polymers or other things -- understand their needs and scale, he said.

The Biomass app offers features such as a biomass crop library complete with detailed information, photos and range maps for the most utilized biomass crops in the U.S., along with the ability to overlap crop ranges in a live, interactive map function.

Another key function is a multi-function biomass calculator that helps the user determine how much biomass they'll need for their specific situation, including conversion technology, conversion rate, and location. For those wishing to convert biomass to biofuels, biochemical, bioproducts, or biopower, this app will provide realistic projections and crop suggestions based on actual, in-the-field studies and crop outcomes.

The app is currently free and available for both Apple and Android products.

When funding for the state's $70 million investment in the Tennessee Biofuels Initiative ended last summer, Genera Energy LLC -- created as part of the initiative by the University of Tennessee and the state -- was spun off as Genera Energy Inc. The new commercial company is focused on supplying biomass to biofuels producers.

At next week's meeting of the Technical Society of Knoxville, Kelly Tiller, Genera's president and CEO will discuss the biofuels industry in her presentation "From Crops to Fuels to Markets: Growing a Commercial Biofuels Industry in Tennessee."

For more information call Bob Scott at 690-0705 or go to

Genera Energy plans to take on a more focused role as a biomass supply company for biofuels producers as the state of Tennessee's $70.5 million investment in the Tennessee Biofuels Initiative ends this month.

At the same time, the University of Tennessee will spin off a second company, TennEra, based on the Genera model, to pursue related opportunities to transfer university technology to the marketplace, according to Kelly Tiller, Genera president and CEO.

TennEra's general research and development focus will be on technologies and processes for biomass fractionation, or separating cellulosic biomass components and commercial application of biorefinery co-products.

Meanwhile, Genera will shift away this summer from its work with the Tennessee Biofuels Initiative to become a self-sustaining commercial venture as a biomass supply company.

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As part of a forum on rural economics Tuesday, University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro got a chance to discuss the potential of switchgrass as a biofuel with the White House administration.

The event, at Northeast Iowa Community College, was part of President Barack Obama's Midwest bus tour.

DiPietro participated in a breakout session on renewable energy and agriculture led by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. DiPietro pushed the idea of introducing a new commodity in the marketplace -- in Tennessee's case, switchgrass -- and the ability to build a new industry and generate new jobs, reports Megan Boehnke in the Knoxville News Sentinel.

The switchgrass program still is in the demonstration phase, but with more help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it could more easily expand into commercial phase, DiPietro said. 

Genera Energy and Dupont Danisco currently partner on a demonstration biofuel refinery in Vonore, Tenn.

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According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, one-third of the energy used in the United States in 2009 was consumed in five States: Texas, California, Florida, New York, and Illinois.

The organization's State Energy Data System includes estimates of energy production, consumption, prices, and expenditures broken down by energy source and sector for each of the 50 states.

The United States used 94,445.9 trillion Btu of energy in 2009, more than doubling since 1960, the first year covered in this year's report.

Tennessee ranked 15th in total energy consumption for 2009, using 2136.0 trillion Btu or 2.3 percent of the nation's total. The state used 2.1 percent of national energy in 1960.
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Renewable energy use in the United States:
Geothermal - increased from 2 trillion btu in 1965 to 200 trillion btu in 2009
Solar - increased from 55 trillion btu in 1989 to 98 trillion btu in 2009
Wind - increased from 22 trillion btu in 1989 to 721 trillion btu in 2009
Fuel Ethanol - increased from 7 million btu in 1981 to 910 trillion btu in 2009

Renewable energy use in Tennessee
Most renewable use in Tennessee ranges from 0.1 trillion btu to 0.5 trillion btu. However, fuel ethanol has
had some ups and downs. Peaking at 4.9 trillion btu in 1988, the fuel fell steadily to 0 until jumping to 11.9 trillion btu in 2005. From there, it climbed to 26.4 trillion btu in 2009.

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The Tennessee 25x'25 State Alliance, in association with the University of Tennessee's Center for Renewable Carbon, will host the Tennessee 25x'25 Renewable Energy Forum Thursday, July 21, from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., in Rooms 156-157 of the Plant Biotechnology Building at 2505 E. J. Chapman Drive, on the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture campus in Knoxville.

Forum participants will examine the economic impacts associated with the use of energy crops, agricultural and forestry residues, and other clean, renewable energy technologies in the state.

Featured speakers at the event:

--Commissioner of Agriculture Julius Johnson, who will provide an overview of Tennessee agriculture's role in renewable energy
--Dr. Stuart Thomas, VP of Technology and Licensing with DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol, who will give an update of the firm's commercialization progress.
--Dr. Steven Bares, of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation will discuss development of markets for biobased products.
--Dr. David Millhorn, University of Tennessee, will discuss the school's alternative energy research initiatives.

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Last week, the U.S. Senate voted to repeal billions of dollars in annual ethanol subsidies, including the 45-cent credit to oil refiners adding ethanol to gasoline and the 54-cent tariff on ethanol imports.

Business writer Hugh Willet highlighted projects in East Tennessee that would be affected if the measure is passed by Congress in the daily Knoxville News Sentinel.

Ethanol is made from corn and other biomass materials such as switchgrass. The University of Tennessee's Department of Agriculture has been working with private industry and local farmers to promote the commercially viable production of ethanol.

Genera Energy LLC, formed in 2008 and wholly owned by the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, plays a key role in implementing the University of Tennessee's Biofuels Initiative, a $70.5 million state investment in developing a cellulosic biofuels industry.

The company has partnered with DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol to build and operate a small-scale cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Vonore, Tenn., using local switchgrass.

Read more about biofuel production projects in Tennessee at the News Sentinel website.

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Eco Travel Plaza in Crossville, Tenn. will unveil its energy efficient remodel next week.

The Eco Travel Plaza, in partnership with the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition, has implemented or is planning up to 40 total initiatives to increase the site's overall energy efficiency, and provide cleaner, healthier options. Emissions reductions and eliminating unnecessary diesel fuel use are key parts of the effort.

The site received a $580,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2009 to install Truck Stop Electrification equipment from two vendors at its parking spots, reducing engine idling. The center will use a 35kw solar system to offset some of the costs.

"With the EPA grant we had an opportunity, but we wanted to be more creative. We chose to add to the benefits of anti-idling technology by further reduce emissions by replacing grid electricity with solar. Then we sought to save other energy usage by replacing inefficient equipment. ... Our goal now is to further reduce our energy footprint, and become energy neutral," said Don Demko, Eco Travel Plaza owner.

In addition to the TSE equipment and solar system, other initiatives include:

LED exterior lights and energy efficient indoor lighting and HVAC
Automatic shut-off faucets, waterless urinals and water pressure reducers
Recycling of paper, glass, plastics onsite and recycling used cooking oil for biodiesel production
Power Controller to reduce electricity use and peak demand

Two electric vehicle DC Fast Charge stations and an electronics recycling center are also planned.
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Memphis-based BioDimensions is growing sugar beets on 200 acres near Whiteville, Tenn. in a facility shared with a local farmer.

Inside, they crush the crops to produce the roasted-sweet-smelling syrup they believe will be a key to a new industry in the Mid-South, reports Toby Sells of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Pete Nelson, one of the company's principals, calls beet juice "the new oil" and says anything made from oil, can be made from beet juice.

He hopes to be part of what could be an $8 billion dollar biofuels and bio-based products incustry in the mid-South, according to a 2009 study by the Memphis Bioworks Foundation.

The study (called the Regional Strategy for Biobased Products in the Mississippi Delta) looked at 98 contiguous counties in Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and Kentucky.

In the next 10 years, this industry could support some 25,000 jobs in rural and urban locations around the Mid-South, the study said.

Read the full story at the Commercial Appeal.
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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Cortney Roark published on January 10, 2017 4:40 PM.

Grow Bioplastics named Sizzle TechStart's first incubator client was the previous entry in this blog.

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