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U.S. Department of Energy Selects First Round of Small-Scale Biorefinery Projects for Up to $114 Million in Federal Funding

January 29, 2008 - 10:53am


Ten percent commercial-scale biorefineries will help the nation meet new Renewable Fuels Standard

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman today announced that DOE will invest up to $114 million, over four years, (Fiscal Years 2007-2010) for four small-scale biorefinery projects to be located in Commerce City, Colorado; St. Joseph, Missouri; Boardman, Oregon; and Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.  Building on President Bush's goal of making cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive by 2012, these ten-percent of commercial-scale biorefineries will use a wide variety of feedstocks and test novel conversion technologies to provide data necessary to bring online full-size, commercial-scale biorefineries.  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 estimated 2.5 MMGY.

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 should a second round of selections be made.  Secretary Bodman made today's announcement while delivering keynote remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Biofuels Dialogue Series, "Outlook for an Emerging Global Biofuels Market."

"These project proposals were innovative and represent the geographic diversity that we strive for when making the widespread use of clean, renewable fuels commercially viable," Secretary Bodman said.  "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."

Expected to be operational in four years, the selected small-scale biorefineries projects will 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.  DOE is also working with these companies, and other research partners, to develop methods for reducing water and fertilizer needs associated with production of these fuels.  With all of these projects, the amount of fossil fuel used to produce the biofuels is significantly less than that associated with gasoline - on average as much as 90 percent less over the lifecycle.

Today's announcement is part of over $1 billion DOE has announced within the last year for multi-year biofuels research and development projects.

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.  The full-scale biorefineries focus on near-term commercial processes, while the small-scale facilities will experiment with diverse feedstocks using novel processing technologies.  Both small- and commercial-scale projects seek to advance the Administration's long-term strategy of increasing the nation's energy, economic and national security by reducing our nation's reliance on foreign oil through increased efficiency and diversification of clean energy sources.  They also further the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which requires that renewable fuels supply at least 36 billion gallons of U.S. motor fuel by 2022 and meet interim supply targets for specific advanced fuels.

Negotiations between the selected companies and DOE will begin immediately to determine final project plans and funding levels.  Funding is subject to appropriations from Congress.  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.  This project stands to broaden the company's focus from corn-based to energy crop-based ethanol production.  ICM, Inc is a privately held company with the mission of sustaining agriculture through innovation, primarily through the engineering and construction of ethanol biorefinerie.

ICM, Inc. is proud to recognize collaborators in this effort, including Ceres, Inc.; Edenspace; South Dakota State University; AGCO Corporation.; DOE-National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL); National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR); Novozymes , VeraSun Energy Corporation; and SunEthanol, Inc.

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 Innovations is a U.S.-based company with a publicly traded Canadian parent based in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Lignol has acquired and since modified a solvent-based pre-treatment technology that was originally developed by a subsidiary of General Electric.

Lignol Innovations participants/investors include: Suncor Energy; and Parker Messana & Associates.

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.  Pacific Ethanol is a leading producer of low-carbon renewable fuels in the Western United States.  The company is headquartered in Sacramento, California, and planning to add cellulosic conversion capability to their corn-based ethanol facility in Oregon.

Pacific Ethanol's investors/participants include: Biogasol LLC; and DOE's Joint Bioenergy Institute (DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories).

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.

NewPage Corporation is the largest printing paper manufacturer in North America, based on production capacity with more than $4.3 billion in pro-forma net sales for the last twelve months ended September 30, 2007.  The company's product portfolio includes coated freesheet, coated groundwood, supercalendered and specialty papers.

Stora Enso's partners include: TRI; Syntroleum; U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and the Alabama Center for Paper and Bioresource Engineering at Auburn University.

Cellulosic ethanol is an alternative fuel made from a wide variety of non-food plant materials (or feedstocks), including agricultural wastes such as corn stover and cereal straws, industrial plant waste like saw dust and paper pulp, and energy crops grown specifically for fuel production like switchgrass.  By using a variety of regional feedstocks for refining cellulosic ethanol, the fuel can be produced in nearly every region of the country.   And because these fuels rely on non-edible portions of crops, and agricultural residues and forest wastes, they have the added advantage of not competing with food crops.  Though it requires a more complex refining process, cellulosic ethanol contains more net energy than traditional corn-based ethanol, and has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 85 percent relative to gasoline.  E-85, an ethanol-fuel blend that is 85-percent ethanol, is already available at nearly 1,350 fueling stations nationwide and can power millions of flexible fuel vehicles already on the roads.

Media contact(s):

Julie Ruggiero, (202) 586-4940