Ag Progress Days exhibits to focus on bioenergy

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- "Ag Energy: Harnessing the Potential" is the theme of exhibits to be showcased in the College of Agricultural Sciences Exhibits Building at Penn State’s Ag Progress Days, Aug. 19-21 -- and the displays will feature what is believed to be a first in the United States.

Two new tractors powered by straight vegetable oil, operated in a long-term research project by the College of Agricultural Sciences, will be on display during the show, offering visitors a glimpse of farm fuel self-sufficiency, according to Glen Cauffman, manager of Penn State's farm operations and facilities.

"We will be showing the direct use of vegetable oil in farm equipment, using freshly pressed canola," he said. "We will have an oilseed press at Ag Progress Days and will actually demonstrate how oil is produced in an agricultural crop, extracted and used in equipment. This type of demonstration was done at a big international farm machinery show in Germany last November, but we will be breaking new ground in this country."

For several years, Penn State has been involved in a demonstration/research project, running a number of tractors on 100 percent biodiesel, which has no petroleum-based diesel fuel added. Several of those also will be displayed at Ag Progress Days. The University recently began operating the two specially designed tractors on straight vegetable oil. Cauffman is eager to show the public the promise of biofuels for agriculture and society.

"At the College Building, we will have examples of oilseed crops, such as camelina, canola and, that we are growing as part of Penn State research," he said. "Developing knowledge to put renewable bioenergy into practice will decrease dependence on foreign petroleum, create opportunities for rural landowners and businesses, and provide a sustainable alternative to energy created from fossil fuels."

With gas prices reaching all-time highs, visitors can discover how the college's teaching, research and extension programs are helping turn Pennsylvania toward renewable sources of energy.

Exhibits will show how teams of Penn State researchers and educators are developing and applying technologies to produce and process alternative fuel sources -- from corn and soybeans, to trees, switchgrass and other nonfood crops -- in a manner that is environmentally and economically sustainable under Pennsylvania conditions.

The exhibits, according to Cauffman, will show that the college, a national leader in the area of bioenergy, is well positioned to provide valuable and much-needed research to move Pennsylvania toward energy independence and stimulate economic investment in the Commonwealth.

Other displays in the College of Agricultural Sciences Exhibits Building will highlight work to generate energy from waste plastics, used cooking oil, combustion and grain ethanol.

During Ag Progress Days, specialists in the college will offer energy-related presentations in the theatre of the College Exhibits Building. Times and topics are as follows:

Tuesday, Aug. 19

-- 11 a.m.: "Natural Gas Leasing Impact"

-- 1:30 p.m.: "Potential of Wind and Solar Energy"

-- 2:30 p.m.: "Using Straight Vegetable Oil"

Wednesday, Aug. 20

-- 11 a.m.: "Natural Gas Leasing Impact"

-- 1:30 p.m.: "Energy Efficiency on the Farm"

-- 2:30 p.m.: "Natural Gas Leasing Impact"

Thursday, Aug. 21

-- 11 a.m.: “Combined Heat and Power Project”

Faculty and staff also will be on hand to answer questions and provide information about the college's undergraduate programs, and visitors can obtain various publications produced by college experts about the agricultural sciences.

Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, nine miles southwest of State College on state Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 19; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 20; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 21. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days Web site at

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Last Updated March 19, 2009