February 23, 2009 Rotogram


Cathy Grace, director of the MSU Early Childhood Institute, will tell us about the multi-disciplinary program established 10 years ago in the College of Education to provide training, assistance and research to improve early childhood education in the state.


Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann will address the Club next week.


Invocation and Pledge: Rex Buffington

Attendance: There were 116 members (36 exempt, 2 honorary) present, and 84 (19 exempt, 7 honorary) absent.

Guests and visitors: Jan Zeppelin was the guest of Michelle Amos. Guests of the Club were Dr. Clyde Williams, Jarred Reneau, Ambassadorial Cultural Scholar, Taka Sato, Youth Exchange Student and Paul Sims with the Starkville Daily News.

Rotary Minute:  Judy Webb announced that this year’s Rotary International theme, “Make Dreams Real,” will be the March 9 spring banquet focus with emphasis on how we do it in Starkville. Fellowship begins at 6:00 with dinner served at 6:45.


The Rotary Classic Rodeo has hit its stride. Loren Zimmerman, chair for the third year, reported that this edition appears to have brought in the best income yet. Our rodeo beneficiary is the Father’s Child Ministry led by Barbara and Edward Yeates who brought several of the children on Friday night.

Final figures will be announced after all expenses have been tallied. In spite of economic pressures affecting sponsors, this year’s success was due to almost all Rotarians helping with ticket sales.

On site, several dozen members and spouses guarded entrances, sold and collected tickets and ran errands. Special thanks goes to Loren and his planning crew, Kristi Brown, Bricklee Miller, Carolyn Jackson and Larry Mullins, who blanketed the Golden Triangle with publicity and secured the sponsors that covered the core expense.


Nearly 2000 young people, as well as many senior adults, in Starkville have read or are reading Jack London’s Call of the Wild this year. Starkville Reads, chaired by Clyde Williams, retired MSU English professor, spearheads the effort. He explained that the $325 check presented by President Chip will buy more books.    Williams noted that our Boy Scout Troop 14 had read the book; that President Chip had participated in a reader’s theatre performance of book excerpts; and, that Rotarian Nancy Hargrove is very involved in the program.


Predicting a rainy weekend, Scoutmaster Perry Sellers accepted the Club’s second $1,500 support check of the year. Troop 14, which was scheduled for a Sipsey Wilderness trek on Feb. 20-23, has a reputation for drawing rain or cold temperatures no matter what weather prognosticators say. Sellers reported that the latest Pushmataha Area Council Wood Badge course for adults involves 13 Troop 14 leaders out of the 55 people participating.


In the quest for more sustainable energy sources, Mississippi State University is focusing its resources on biomass, the byproducts of waste and marginal plant materials.
Glenn Steele, co-director of MSU’s Sustainable Energy Research Center, reported on the U.S. Department of Energy-funded unit’s objectives to:

  • Develop a coordinated approach to biorenewable energy research at MSU.
  • Generate knowledge that supports the sustainable energy industry.
  • Train a workforce to support sustainable energy companies.
  • Develop and promote policies that encourage sustainable energy development.

A 2006 DOE and USDA study showed that the U.S. has enough biomass capacity to displace 30 percent of the fossil fuels used for transportation each year.

With a majority of its land in forests and cropland, Mississippi is a prime candidate for biomass production and conversion. Bringing together scientists from many disciplines, the center’s goal is to develop transportation fuel from biomass to support the growth of the renewable energy industry in Mississippi.

Steele noted that there already are 5 biofuel plants in the state producing biodiesel and ethanol. Five other units exist, but are not in production.

Research is conducted in fuel feedstocks, products and uses. Bio-oil and syngas for gasoline are derived from woody biomass and lignocellulose. Bio-crude comes from wastewater sludge, lipids and lignocellulose.

Mississippi’s forest industry byproducts account for about four million dry tons of woody biomass annually. This potential direct feedstock can be converted to bio-oil for use in existing petroleum refineries or be upgraded and blended with petroleum fuels. Bio-oil (or pyrolysis oil) is oil created from heating biomass (trees) under oxygen limited conditions. It is the most commercially viable biomass product at present.

Thus far, MSU research has:

  • Produced 120 to 160 gallons of raw bio-oil per ton of dry wood, corresponding to a yield of 60 to 80 percent of the energy in the wood.
  • Produced upgraded HDO bio-oil with 40 to 60 percent of the energy of the wood.
  • Blended HDO bio-oil with diesel and gasoline and operated small engines.

Describing a distributed bio-oil industry, Steele said, “We would have mobile units go to where the wood is and actually turn it into oil in the field. That would be a higher value product than having to transport the raw wood.”

Field conversion could be done on a regular schedule or in disaster situations. The prime example is the downed timber in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Syngas, a carbon rich gas produced by burning biomaterials which can be converted to several energy sources, is important to Mississippi’s renewable energy industry due to the abundance of biomass from agricultural and forest waste products in the state.

Steele’s final point was that the best way to save energy is conservation. He stressed that for every BTU of energy not used, 3 BTUs are saved in the process of producing the fuel.

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