PRINCESS ANNE — A team of researchers that includes UMES agriculture, food and resource sciences professors is scratching the surface of a new frontier searching for alternatives to fossil fuels that power combustion engines.
Actually, that frontier is eight-to-12 inches below the surface of a fifth of an acre in the shadow of the university’s solar panel energy grid on the east side of campus.
Jurgen Schwarz, chairman of the university’s Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Sciences, and colleagues Arthur Allen and Caleb Nindo are working with a consortium of private-sector partners focused on finding new sources of biofuels by planting sugar beets.
“Energy beets,” Schwarz likes to call them.
Early findings show the beets appear capable of producing two-to-three times more ethanol than a comparable amount of corn, which heretofore has been the primary source of the alternative fuel..