Prepared by Azadwinder Chahal (Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering) and Michael Jacobson (Department of Ecosystem Science and Management)
The Pennsylvania Biomass Energy Association hosted a Mid-Atlantic Biomass Energy Conference & Expo, MABEX 2017 at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center from September 12-14, 2017. The conference was aimed at building the bioeconomy in the Mid-Atlantic region. The focus was on the use of biomass for thermal applications in an environmental responsible manner. The program started with field tours. The first tour included a visit to East Lycoming High School where about 40 acres of willow produce boiler fuel generate energy and 2.5 acres solar array that supplement their electric need. The second visit of the tour was to Sullivian County School District at Laporte to see a fully automated chip delivery system, biomass gasification unit, and boiler. The final visit of the first tour was to Windcrest Farm Fuel, Wapwallopen, to see switchgrass pelletizing operations. Second bus tour included visits to hybrid willow plantation at Rockview where Penn State has planted several varieties of hybrid willow to test growth performance. Then the second tour visited a large dairy farm near Loganton, PA, where a Schrack farm digester receives manure from several hundred cows on this farm. The third site of this tour was to Metzler Forest Products to observe processing bark and logs into mulch and woodchips for the bioenergy and pulp/paper industries. Finally, bus tours concluded with the visit to a Bald Eagle State Forest bioenergy harvest.
The second day was begun with keynote discussion session on opportunities to grow the Mid-Atlantic bioenergy market given by Dan Wilson, Chairman, Biomass Thermal Energy Council, Carrie Annand, Executive Director, Biomass Power Association, Ted Niblock, American Biogas Council, and Nathan Brown, Federal Aviation Administration Center of Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels and Environment. This was followed by a full day of presentations and discussions. A few highlights were sessions on developing successful Mid-Atlantic biogas projects and the state policies influencing biogas/biomass projects in the Mid-Atlantic.
Finally, William Goldner, Ph.D. acting division director, Division of sustainability Bioenergy, Institute of Bioenergy, Climate, and Environment, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture, gave a closing keynote.