Defense Department OKs facilities turning natural produce into energy
Naturally occurring bacteria used to convert biomass into hydrocarbons.
A Georgia company looking to solve America’s energy problem has finally teamed up with the federal government, hoping to make millions of barrels of oil every day from virtually anything that grows out of the Earth.
Bell Bio-Energy, Inc. says it has reached an agreement with the U.S. Defense Department to build seven test production plants, mostly on military bases, to quickly turn naturally grown material into fuel.
“What this means is that with the seven pilot plants – the military likes to refer to them as demonstrations – with those being built … it gives us the real-time engineering data that we need to finish the designs for a full-scale production facility,” J.C. Bell, the man behind the project, told WND today.
“In 18 months or so, we will start manufacturing oil directly from waste and we will build up to about 500,000 barrels a day within two years. In another six months, we’ll reach a million barrels a day.”
As the United States now imports about 13 million barrels of oil a day, the only obstacle then to total energy independence from foreign sources will be the money needed to develop the processing plants, he said.
“Working with the USDA we’ve identified enough waste material around the country, we truly believe we can make the United States totally energy independent of foreign countries in about five years,” he said.
WND originally reported on the project in March as Bell, an agricultural researcher, confirmed he’d isolated and modified specific bacteria that will, on a very large scale, naturally and rapidly convert plant material – including the leftovers from food – into hydrocarbons to fuel cars and trucks.
That means trash like corn stalks and corn cobs – even the grass clippings from suburban lawns – can be turned into oil and gasoline to run trucks, buses and cars.
Wood pulp is among the many natural materials that can be converted into oil and gasoline, according to Bell Bio-Energy, Inc., of Tifton, Ga.
He said he made the discovery standing downwind from his cows at his food-production company, Bell Plantation, in Tifton, Ga.
“Cows are like people that eat lots of beans. They’re really, really good at making natural gas,” he said. “It dawned on me that that natural gas was methane.”
WND also reported how the national news media more or less ignored his announcement of a potential solution to America’s dependence on Middle East nations for its oil.
But the U.S. military was listening. And Bell now confirms his agreement with the Department of Defense, the Defense Energy Support Center and the Army will have seven demonstration facilities built at Fort Benning and Fort Stewart in Georgia, Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort AP Hill in Virginia, Fort Drum in New York and Fort Lewis in Washington, as well as one more installation in San Pedro, Calif.
“We should have all of the plants running within 60 days,” he said. “This is a big step in our growth, from the engineering that we develop with these plants, we will be able to build our full-scale production facilities and be in full production in the next 12 to 18 months.
“Everyone now accepts the fact that we can make oil through bacterial action and now it is just a matter of time and money until we are turning out one million to two million barrels per day,” he said.
He told WND the first full-scale facility probably will cost $100 million to $125 million to build, and that an investment of $2.5 billion likely will be needed to reach a production level of a million barrels per day.
But he said the return – even if the oil were sold for $70 a barrel, just half of what it was going for six weeks ago and still substantially lower than the current market rate of about $110 a barrel – would be significant.
“It will feel very, very good to be to the point where we finally turn off the spigot from overseas,” he said.
The process previously had been verified, said Dr. Art Robinson, a research professor of chemistry at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine who publishes the Access to Energy newsletter. “These other ways [of producing energy] work; the only question is if they’re competitive in price. Any hydrocarbon under pressure and temperature can turn into oil.”
How big does Bell believe the process eventually could be?
“With minor changes in the agricultural and forestry products, we could create two to two and a half billion tons of biomass a year, and you’re looking at five billion barrels of oil per year,” he said.