The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has teamed with Utah State University (USU) and Ph.D. student Dallas Hanks on a project to grow biodiesel feedstocks along state highways. The first seeds of this first-of-its kind project were planted in late April, Hanks said.
The idea for the project began with Hanks, owner of a small scientific research company called Blue Cow Inc. and former collegiate professor who saw it as an opportunity to complete his Ph.D. in plant soils and environmental sciences. Although he has looked at the utilization of roadsides for vegetable and grain and fuel source crops for several years, it was not economically viable until this year.
“Once we get to a break point of about $2 per gallon of diesel, this program becomes very feasible,” Hanks said. “I thought this would be a great application because we could utilize the dry land conditions for these oil seed crops.”
UDOT agreed to fund the first phase of the project, giving $57,200, as well as the use of equipment and personnel help if needed. Canola, safflower and some perennial flax seeds were selected as the most likely to give high yields and four locations ranging from the northern end down to the central part of the state were identified for planting.
Hanks said that at each location there are 24 plots and, because the data coming out of the project will be used for his dissertation, the management of all the plots is his responsibility.
(Cf. news of 2007-05-29.)
Source: biodieselmagazine.com, 2007-06-05.