Sept. 26, 2012
GALESBURG—Two hundred pounds of the Beecher variety of pennycress seed obtained from Pennycress Energy, located in the Galesburg Sustainable Business Center, were planted Monday in Carl Sandburg College’s 20-acre field adjacent to the Main Campus in Galesburg.
The seed, which will be used for biodiesel, was blended with fertilizer from the Riverland FS service center in Maquon, which also spread the seed. Sandburg alumnus John Hennenfent, a Carl Sandburg College Foundation board member and CEO and president of Munson Hybrids in Galesburg, will maintain the field. The idea to use Sandburg’s arable land for a sustainable and renewable energy crop began with a conversation between City of Galesburg economic development director Cesar Suarez and Steve Sager, Illinois Green Economy Network adult transition services coordinator at Sandburg.
“It’s a natural fit,” said Charles Young, coordinator/instructor of Sandburg’s IGEN biofuels manufacturing technology program, which is expected to launch in the fall of 2013. “A component of this program is the chemistry and processes of biodiesel production.”
Pennycress is an alternative, renewable fuel crop that is a nonfood member of the mustard family. It is a winter annual with a late May/early June harvest, allowing farmers to plant soybeans in their fields following the harvest of pennycress. The plant forms low-growing rosettes in the fall, acting as a cover crop and protecting the soil from erosion.
Pennycress has the potential of having 36 percent oil content, twice that of soybeans, and has a chemical composition suited for conversion to biodiesel or renewable jet fuel. The meal that remains after the plant is pressed can be used to produce other energy products and as a high-protein livestock feed.
“This is an innovative project,” said Sudhir Seth, president and CEO of Pennycress Energy. “We’ll be able to help develop an alternative, sustainable fuel source; help decrease our dependency on foreign oil; create jobs; and put several million dollars into our farming communities. This looks like an incredible win-win-win situation to us.”
Caption: From left, Charles Young, coordinator/instructor of Sandburg’s IGEN biofuels manufacturing technology program, and Steve Sager, IGEN adult transition services coordinator at Sandburg, visit with John Hennenfent, Sandburg alumnus and CEO and president of Munson Hybrid during the planting of pennycress on Monday morning at the 20-acre field adjacent to Carl Sandburg College.