I noticed this AP article in the Macon newspaper via Georgia Daily Digest. This caravan, featuring vehicles powered by homegrown Georgia products like chicket fat and soybeans, leads up to the Southeastern Bioenergy Conference this week in Tifton. The article says that it is sponsored by UGA and will bring together 450 bioenergy experts and manufacturers from around the globe. That's big stuff for the little town of Tifton. But considering it's in the heartland of Georgia's farming industry, it's quite appropriate.
Caravan demonstrates potential of alternative fuel vehicles
MACON, Ga. - A caravan of alternative fuel vehicles drove from Atlanta to Tifton on Monday to highlight their role in cleaning up the air and making the country less dependent on foreign oil.
U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall, a Democrat and former Macon mayor who represents Georgia's 3rd District, said the nation's reliance on foreign oil has become an important national security issue. In addition, ever increasing fuel prices are becoming a burden for American families, he said.
"You see the prices people are struggling with," he said. "We do not need to be dependent on foreign oil. From the national security perspective, it's important to move to alternate fuels."
The eight-vehicle procession was actually a kickoff for a three-day, Southeastern Bioenergy Conference in Tifton. That meeting, sponsored by the University of Georgia, is expected to attract about 450 bioenergy experts and prospective manufacturers from around the world.
The alternative-energy caravan, sponsored by the Middle Georgia Clean Cities Coalition, left the Capitol in Atlanta on Monday morning, traveled south on Interstate 75 and rolled into Macon shortly before noon before heading back to the Interstate for the trip to Tifton.
"Many of these are powered by Georgia's home grown products," said Linda Smyth, a clean cities spokeswoman. "One vehicle is powered by biodiesel made from chicken fat. Others are burning biodiesel made from soybean oil.
"We're trying to promote products made from pine since Georgia has 25 million acres in forestry production," she said. "In theory any plant cellulose can be turned into ethanol - whisky from corn, rum from sugar cane and vodka from potatoes."
The vehicles included three large Chevrolet SUVs powered by a mixture of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent ethanol. Two of them had bright green stripes against a yellow background of corn kernels, while the third was a solid black police vehicle with flashing lights, a siren, a large badge on the hood and the words "Backup has arrived" painted on the two front fenders.
Georgia Power Co. sent a hybrid work truck that runs on biodiesel and electricity.
Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin, whose department is responsible for fuel quality in the state, rode down in a Ford pickup truck with a biodiesel-powered engine.
Irvin said Georgia's relatively small corn crop may limit production of corn-based ethanol, but it can offset that by producing ethanol from the cellulose in the state's vast reserves of pine trees.
"Bio-fuels are the wave of the future," he said. "I believe the price of (conventional) fuel has made them competitive."
Here's another article written by a local staff writer for the Macon paper on the same subject: