New rhizome root harvester to be unveiled at U of I bioenergy symposium

December 21, 2009

URBANA - A new miscanthus rhizome root harvester and planter will be unveiled at the seventh annual Bioenergy Feedstocks Symposium on Monday, Jan. 11 and Tuesday, Jan. 12 at the I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign, Ill.

In collaboration with the University of Illinois, European bioenergy developer, Tomax Ltd., and Oklahoma machinery manufacturer, Bermuda King, will reveal how the Rizomgen™ Harvester /Planter package can save 50 percent on existing rhizome harvesting and planting costs.

Tomax Senior Bioenergy Consultant Gavin Maxwell said, "Our collaboration with the Energy Crop Science Team at the University of Illinois has enabled us to analyze a greater variety of testing conditions and has allowed our manufacturing partner to apply appropriate engineering solutions to make vegetative rhizome harvesting more competitive."

Recent United States trials demonstrated a 200 percent increase in rhizome collection over manual systems. This will allow regional nurseries to expand more efficiently to meet the demand for both solid and liquid fuel conversion.

The new machine package will be deployed in 2010 to licensed nurseries in the U.S. and Europe and will be available for commercial grower groups for the 2011 season.

Also, the symposium will explore how bioenergy is diversifying farming, generating employment opportunities and allowing the U.S. to achieve energy independence.

Information will be provided about the use of perennial grasses as a potential renewable energy source and profitable alternative crop for the Midwest. Experts in their field will speak about advances in bioenergy research at the U of I, environmental impacts of biomass crops, the variety of biomass crops available for commercial use, the science behind feedstock improvement, the process of taking feedstocks from farm use to commercial sales and what the biomass crop assistance program means to farmers.

Bioenergy leader Marcos Buckeridge of the Institute of Biosciences at the University of San Paulo will discuss how Brazil achieved success in replacing almost half of its petroleum use with biofuels and how Brazil's achievement can be a roadmap for the U.S.
Farmers, researchers, academics, industry professionals, and government officials are invited to attend and exchange ideas and information. Advance registration is required. Register online at or contact Patty Sarver at 217-244-6746 or e-mail

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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