A Montana group is returning to north-central Montana to sponsor a tour of a local innovator’s farm and to talk about a project he is involved with that uses locally produced fuel and energy.
The Alternative Energy Resources Organization, or AERO, of Bozeman will hold a tour of Bob Quinn’s Big Sandy-area farm Thursday, July 7.
The tour also will include discussions of Quinn’s use of locally grown fuel pressed from oilseeds raised on his farm to operate his equipment.
Quinn has been experimenting with organic production and crop rotation on his third-generation family farm for decades.
He has worked in the alternative energy industry, creating Wind Park Solutions, a company that pushed to build a wind farm in the Judith Gap. That company now is operated by a Chicago-based company.
Now, Quinn is working with Montana State University-Northern’s Bio-Energy Center to research growing oilseeds locally, processing it into fuel and using it back on the farms where the seeds were raised.
Northern’s staff is working on pressing food-quality oils, which are then used at local restaurants. The used oil is returned to the research center, processed into biodiesel and returned to the grower.
Northern began the project with canola oil used for cooking by the university food service, which was then processed into biodiesel. North Central Montana Transit began testing that in some of its buses.
The project is expanding on that, using a closed-loop model where the producer supplies restaurants, which then return the used oil to end up as fuel for the farmer.
Quinn is going even a step farther than that. He is having a press built to press food-grade oil. The oil will be rented to restaurants, then processed to run in a tractor he has converted to run on the vegetable oil without being converted into biodiesel.
He said he is continuing to experiment on that process, including looking at effects on exhaust. Converting to full use of oil is planned after the food-grade press is in operation.
Researchers from Northern will give a presentation about the project during the event next Thursday.
Lunch is included at the event, which costs $10 and starts at 9 a. m. The tour is limited to 100 participants, and interested people can call AERO at (406) 443-7272 to find out if space is available and to register.