Courtesy of WPEC
It won’t be long before your plane ticket will come with a side of potatoes – sweet potatoes. That’s one of the biofuel sources being explored at the Treasure Coast Research Park, right in our own backyard in Fort Pierce. Recently, the Treasure Coast Research Park, located in Fort Pierce, just off Kings Highway about a half mile north of where the the Turnpike and I-95 come together, hosted a Farm to Fly Biodiesel Research Study Kickoff at the Treasure Coast Research Park’s facilities. Nearly a hundred science and industry leaders, along with a number of representatives from local government and agribusiness, gathered to define and discuss the possibilities and potential for utilizing locally-produced crops to create biodiesel fuel suitable for powering transportation vehicles, including passenger jets.
According to Ben DeVries, CEO of the Treasure Coast Research Park, “The meeting came together because expanding international regulations of commercial aviation have begun to create a very promising opportunity for Florida agriculture.” In addition to panel discussions, roundtables, and networking opportunities, the Farm to Fly Study Kickoff focused on creating a comprehensive list of what constitutes “feasibility” as it relates to a projected Florida sustainable fuels project (centered in Ft Pierce, St. Lucie County) in lands largely laid fallow by the loss of the region’s citrus crop.
The Treasure Coast Research Park is now at the heart of industrial sugar and starch based Advanced BioFuel (ABF) feedstock development. In addition to some of the world’s leading researchers in the field of biofuels, including world-renowned research scientists based in St. Lucie County, representatives and members from the U.S. Commercial Aviation Trade Association and a variety of Advance Biofuel processors were on hand for the daylong discussions and dialogues.
At the start of the Farm to Fly meeting, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Director of Florida and the Virgin Islands, Richard Machek, presented a check for $97,000 to St. Lucie County Commissioners Kim Johnson and Tod Mowery. The USDA funds are to be utilized by the Treasure Coast Education Research and Development Authority (TCERDA) to provide research and development of a collaborative with focus on Florida’s long term need for sustainable jet fuel will make a difference both in the area’s economy and the environment.
Fuel company participants at the inaugural Farm to Fly Study Meeting included representatives of national ABF jet fuel pathways (qualified or on a path to ASTM qualification) who are being contracted to be a part of the study because they are substantive, and engaged in fuel development and delivery. According to the Treasure Coast Research Park Board Chair, Agribusiness owner Mike Adams, the premise of the Farm to Fly – From the Ground Up Research Study is simple. “Florida offers affordable sugar and starch rich feedstock. Local jet fuel production environmental offers opportunities to improve the state’s water quality, jet fuel distribution network and to expand the growth of state’s air transportation sector.”
To learn more about the Treasure Coast Research Park, please contact the Treasure Coast Research Park at 772-467-3107 today.