Chimney Rock Interpretive Association to host potluck

By Nadia Werby
Special to The SUN

Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) invites community members to a monthly potluck at the Ross Aragon Community Center on Thursday, Feb. 14, at 6 p.m.

John Scahill, a Chimney Rock volunteer, will make a presentation titled “Biomass —The Ancient Fuel: A Tour of the Modern Technical Landscapes.” Scahill will discuss the utilization of waste biomass residues (e.g. all those dead trees at the top of Wolf Creek Pass) for conversion into energy products. The energy products can be electricity, such as what J.R. Ford is doing, in addition to gasoline, diesel and jet fuel that is indistinguishable from what we currently get from expensive petroleum. He will explain the chemical pathways (in layman’s terms) to go from biomass to these products with additional detail on the specific process that J.R. Ford plans to use at his local biomass plant.

Scahill began his chemical engineering career as a process engineer with DuPont Biochemicals in Houston, Texas. This was followed by three years as a process engineer in a nickel cadmium battery manufacturing plant. He then spent 24 years doing process development research and development in biomass thermochemical conversion at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. This development work was focused on both fast pyrolysis and gasification of various types of biomass substrates to produce fuels, chemicals and power. Research activities also included developing small modular biomass power systems for off grid applications. In 2004, he took a position as a project manager with the Department of Energy’s Golden field office where he managed a portfolio of more than 30 biomass related research and development projects for the Office of Biomass Program. These projects included a wide range of technology issues such as biomass feedstock interfacing with conversion reactors, pyrolysis bio-oil stabilization, bio-oil upgrading to hydrocarbon fuels and syngas cleanup.

CRIA will provide coffee, water and soft drinks. Anyone who wants to help with set up should arrive around 5:30 p.m. and if anyone can stay and help clean and put away the tables, it is much appreciated.

CRIA operates in partnership with USDA Forest Service and the San Juan National Forest. View the CRIA website at

This story was posted on January 31, 2013.