Search :

Turning Timber Into Black Gold

by Susan Varlamoff


Intro  |  Running with a Simple Idea  |  Transforming the State, the Country, and the Century  

UGA Biorefinery and Carbon Cycling



Transforming “biomass,” the products and byproducts of farm or forest, could provide a renewable, local, and profitable alternative to oil. And Georgia, a veritable Saudi Arabia of biomass, is well placed to lead.

Though oil is a nonrenewable energy source whose supplies are decreasing, the United States is still hooked on it. Petroleum provides 40 percent of America’s total energy needs and most of it — 70 percent — is used for transportation. As U.S oil supplies dwindle, more than 60 percent is imported.

To ease America’s heavy reliance on petroleum, University of Georgia engineers have been experimenting with the renewable alternative of biofuels, and plans are underway to convert the campus transit system which includes the nation’s largest university bus fleet accordingly.

For more than 20 years, biofuel’s research and pilot projects have been conducted on the campus and around the state. In the 1980s, for example, UGA buses were fueled with diesel made from peanut oil. During the winter of 2002, the buildings were heated using animal fats, plant oils and grease. Electricity was generated in north Georgia in 2004 by burning chicken litter.

With near-record prices for gasoline and rising concerns about global warming, converting to biofuels makes good environmental and economic sense for the country and for the state. “Biofuels made from Georgia agricultural and forestry products could be a major factor in Georgia’s future rural economic development,” said Tom Adams, director of UGA’s Engineering Outreach Service and a member of the faculty of engineering.


Intro  |  Running with a Simple Idea  |  Transforming the State, the Country, and the Century  


Research Communications, Office of the VP for Research, UGA
For comments or for information please e-mail:
To contact the webmaster please email: