DOE announced on January 29 that it will invest $114 million in four ten-percent of commercial-scale scale biorefinery projects over four years, to be located in Colorado, Missouri, Oregon, and Wisconsin.
Expected to be operational in four years, the selected projects will use a wide range of feedstocks to produce liquid transportation fuels such as cellulosic ethanol, as well as bio-based chemicals and bio-based products used in industrial applications. Combined with industry cost share, more than $331 million will be invested in these four projects.
“Spurred by the President’s ambitious plan to reduce projected U.S. gas consumption by twenty percent by 2017, our goal is to aggressively push these technologies forward to get them out into the marketplace as quickly as possible, so they can have a real impact. Advanced biofuels offer tremendous promise for helping our nation to bring about a new, cleaner, more secure and affordable energy future.”On average, commercial-scale biorefineries input 700 tons of feedstock per day, with an output of approximately 20-30 million gallons a year (MMGY); these small-scale facilities will input approximately 70 tons of feedstock per day, with an typical output of 2.5 MMGY.
--DOE Secretary Samuel W. Bodman
The following four projects were selected:
ICM Incorporated of Colwich, Kansas; DOE will provide up to $30 million
The proposed plant will be located in St. Joseph, Missouri, and will utilize diverse and relevant feedstocks including agricultural residues, such as corn fiber, corn stover, switchgrass and sorghum. ICM, Inc. will integrate biochemical and thermochemical processing and demonstrate energy recycling within the same facility.
Lignol Innovations Inc., of Berwyn, Pennsylvania; DOE will provide up to $30 million
The proposed plant, co-located with a petroleum refinery, will be located in Commerce City, Colorado, and using biochem-organisolve, will convert hard and soft wood residues into ethanol and commercial products, co-located with a petroleum refinery. Lignol has acquired and since modified a solvent-based pre-treatment technology that was originally developed by a subsidiary of General Electric.
Pacific Ethanol Inc., of Sacramento, California; DOE will provide up to $24.3 million
The proposed plant will be located in Boardman, Oregon, and will convert agricultural and forest product residues to ethanol using BioGasol's proprietary conversion process. The company is headquartered in Sacramento, California, and planning to add cellulosic conversion capability to their corn-based ethanol facility in Oregon.
Stora Enso, North America, of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin; DOE will provide up to $30 million
The proposed plant will be located in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, and proposes to take wood wastes and convert it to Fischer-Tropsch diesel fuel. NewPage Corporation of Miamisburg, Ohio, recently acquired Stora Enso North America, the original applicant for this funding opportunity announcement.
Further details on these projects can be found using the links provided at the bottom of the news release.
Due to an overwhelming response to this solicitation, the Department anticipates selecting a second round of small-scale projects later this spring, bringing DOE total investment up to $200 million.
These small-scale projects also complement the Department’s February 2007 announcement, where projects were selected to receive up to $385 million over four years for the development of six commercial-scale biorefineries, at least one of which, Range Fuels, is under construction. The full-scale biorefineries focus on near-term commercial processes, while the small-scale facilities will experiment with diverse feedstocks using novel processing technologies.
While this funding is relatively small by government standards, combined with the February 2007 announcement, we will have a fairly comprehensive effort to develop and demonstrate cellulosic ethanol technologies. The existing industry will benefit from more efficient and less costly processes, as well as future facilities. I know that many of you who were opposed to corn ethanol, as I am now that we have a sufficient industrial base, are still opposed to cellulosic ethanol, but I think the case for cellulosic ethanol is strong. Private industry is also going ahead on its own as is indicated by this recent announcement by Coskata. I think the modest government investment will provide a friendly competition to the development of proprietary technologies.
Cellulosic ethanol has an important place in our energy mix, allowing us to reduce oil imports as HEVs, PHEVs and EVs come along and reduce our need for liquid fuels, until someday we can stop using any fossil fuels to power our vehicles. We may not ever totally eliminate liquid fuels due to the the unique requirements of some heavy vehicles and air transportation however I hope that we can at least eventually eliminate oil imports.
l prefer biofuels over hydrogen for powering of cars, primarily based on the costs and relative state of development of the two technologies, especially for the next 20 or so years until we can reduce the infrastructure cost for distributing hydrogen, maybe by developing economical distributed production, such as producing it from "E Coli", and lower cost fuel cells. Comparatively the technology for biofuels is much further advanced. Hydrogen may have a nearer term application in stationary units where size and weight are not as important and the infrastructure costs can be minimized by having the fuel cells located near large hydrogen production facilities.