Farm Show: Butter to Energy

A 900-pound butter sculpture isn’t something you see everyday. It is a tradition at the Farm Show and this year marks the 19th time one is on display at the show. This piece honors the Pennsylvania National Guard was made by sculptor Jim Victor over a ten day period. Curious about the origins of butter sculpting a quick Google search revealed not only a tradition of agricultural representations at events like the Farm Show, but a more ancient Tibetan Buddhist one that made butter sculptures to celebrate the Tibetan New Year. Looking forward though what struck me as interesting was the future of this particular work.

After the show closes on Saturday all this butter will be converted into bio-diesel fuel. At Penn State there’s a lot of work going on related to bio-diesel and bio-fuel production. Tom Richard, director of the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment, was at Penn State’s Agricultural Energy exhibit to answer questions and talk about the things happening in research today.

Glen Cauffman, manager of Farm Operations for the College, was also at the exhibit. Glen and his crew are intimately involved in working with biofuels, green hydraulic fluids, and other bio-based energy sources including research in oil crops like camelina.

There is a lot of information available in this area on the College of Ag Sciences publication database. Or check the article on biofuels in the Summer 2008 issue of Penn State Agriculture titled Feeding a Hungry World.

Just a few exhibits away from the Agricultural Energy exhibit sat a Harley-Davidson Fatboy motorcycle converted to run on bio-diesel. I wonder what that sounds like?


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