Wells Fargo opens Baton Rouge commercial banking office _lowres

Robert Stuart III, of Wells Fargo & Co.

BNI networking chapter started in Metairie

The BNI Opportunity Unlimited chapter has formed in Metairie with more than 20 business professionals.

Members meet at 11:30 a.m. each Thursday at Porter and Luke’s Family Restaurant, 1517 Metairie Road, in Metairie to share ideas, contacts and business referrals. Only one person representing a professional specialty can join a BNI chapter.

Tiffanie Riddle is president and Natalie Barranco is vice president. The website is www.bnilouisiana.com.

Alternative fuels conference, expo set

The 2016 Louisiana Alternative Fuels Conference & Expo is being held by Louisiana Clean Fuels from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 14 in the Cajundome Convention Center, 444 Cajundome Blvd., in Lafayette.

The event will be preceded by a reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. April 13 at Cafe Vermilionville, 1304 W. Pinhook Road, in Lafayette.

The conference will bring up to 200 alternative fuel stakeholders, policy and decision-makers, fleet operators, fuel suppliers, equipment manufacturers, governmental bodies and agencies, safety officials and energy consultants for updates on alternative fuel vehicles and industry news.

Topics include gaseous fuel vehicle repair and maintenance facility design; alternative fuel vehicle safety and emissions compliance regulations, other regulations, legislation and incentives; idle reduction technologies; factors affecting the economics of alternative fuel vehicles; advances in electric vehicles and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge; case studies and tips from national alternative fuel fleets; the sustainable fleet accreditation program; training options in Louisiana; and applying for grants.

Get information and register at louisianacleanfuels.org/meetinginfo.php.

Researcher finding uses for sugar cane waste

An LSU Agricultural Center scientist is exploring using byproducts of sugar processing to make polymers.

Michael Vincent, a postdoctoral researcher at the Audubon Sugar Institute, has made polymers using aconitic acid derived from molasses and bagasse, the fibrous material left after sugar is extracted from sugar cane. Depending on which chemical reaction is used, Vincent can make a polyester polymer or a high-strength resin.

The hardness and flexibility of the materials can be fine-tuned with different formulations, Vincent said.

Some formulations make a more bendable product, while adding bagasse appears to make a harder and more durable polymer.

Vincent hopes to find industry partners to help identify uses for the polymers. The polyester could be used to make small goods like cellphone cases. The resin could be used for coatings on consumer products and to make lightweight composite parts for the automotive industry, he said.

Vincent’s work is part of the AgCenter’s Sustainable Bioproducts Initiative, which is funded by a five-year, $17.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The goal is to find ways to make biofuels and other products using infrastructure already in Louisiana because of the sugar industry.

Event focuses on food safety, regulations

The LSU Agricultural Center will hold a workshop April 20-22 to educate food processors about safety regulations and best practices for preventing contamination.

The course will be held in Room 212 of Efferson Hall at LSU. It will run 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the first two days and 8:30 a.m. to noon on the third day.

The workshop will focus on regulations that are part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which requires certain activities to be performed by people who have been trained in taking safety measures to prevent foodborne illness.

Topics include developing food safety and recall plans, keeping good records and analyzing hazards.

The course was developed by the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance and is recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said AgCenter food safety specialist Achyut Adhikari.

Registration is $595 and covers course materials and lunches as well as certificates issued by the Association of Food and Drug Officials that satisfies the requirement for a “preventive controls qualified individual.”

Register by April 15 at nfs.lsu.edu/outreach/fspca.

$1.75 million soybean, grain grant awarded

The Louisiana Soybean and Grain Research and Promotion Board has given the LSU Agricultural Center $1.75 million to finance 62 research and outreach projects this year.

The funds come from a commodity checkoff program, which collects a percentage of farmers’ proceeds from sales of soybeans, corn, wheat and grain sorghum.

The projects, which include 21 new studies and 41 that are continuing from previous years, cover all aspects of agricultural production and focus on helping farmers make better management decisions.

Among them are two projects that board members requested: using winter cover crops in conservation programs and the effects of irrigation on phosphorous and potassium in grain crop production. Other topics addressed in this year’s projects include managing the sugar cane aphid in grain sorghum, irrigation system efficiency and water quality, herbicide-resistant weed management, optimizing fertilizer usage, managing diseases in soybeans and corn, and managing feral hog populations. The board also is funding a number of on-farm demonstrations, including trials of recommended hybrids and varieties.