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Ethanol Industry News

Fiberight begins production of cellulosic ethanol from municipal solid waste

Fiberight announced on May 6 that it has begun production at what it calls the nation’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant using enzymatic conversion technology and industrial / municipal solid waste as the feedstock. A former corn-ethanol plant in Blairstown, Iowa has been converted for the cellulosic ethanol production.

The company has retained Source Capital Group, Inc. of Westport, Connecticut to complete a financing led by Venture Cross Partners of Great Falls, Virginia to provide expansion capital for the Blairstown biorefinery. Following a total $24 million investment, Fiberight says the facility will be scaled to final commercial-scale production capacity of approximately 6 million gallons of biofuel per year in 2011.

Fiberight uses biochemical process to turn the organic element of municipal solid waste (MSW) – such as contaminated paper, food wastes, and other discards – into fuel-grade cellulosic ethanol. The Blairstown facility will use initial feedstock from paper pulp wastes from a paper plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, followed by integration of other industrial wastes and processed MSW from Fiberight’s operations in Lawrenceville, Virginia. By mid-summer, operations are projected to begin use of MSW from the Benton County municipality and other Iowa landfills. At targeted full production, the Blairstown plant will be processing over 350 tons of wastes per day at a reporter cost of less than $1.65 per gallon.

The Blairstown biorefinery involves strategic partnerships with Novozymes and TMO Renewables of the United Kingdom.

Ford Motor Company will deliver on pledge to double FFVs

Ford Motor Company announced on May 4 that it will deliver on its 2006 pledge to double the number of 2010 model year Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) it produces in the United States, vehicles capable of running on any combination of gasoline and ethanol up to E85. The announcement was made by Sue Cischke, Ford’s group vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering, at the 2010 BIO International Convention in Chicago.

“Flexible-fuel vehicles are a great alternative for our customers because they provide owners with the option to choose between using E85 and gasoline when filling up a car,” Cischke said. “Ethanol and other biofuels also help reduce the country’s dependence on imported oil.”

The company’s press statement noted that more ethanol is now produced and used in the U.S. than the amount of gasoline made from oil imported from Saudi Arabia and Iraq combined.

“Assuming incentives continue to encourage the manufacturing, distribution, and availability of renewable fuels, as well as the production of flexible fuel vehicles, Ford remains committed to expand flexible-fuel vehicle output to 50 percent of total 2012 model year vehicle production,” the press release stated.

Ford’s pledge to double FFV production is based on its 2006 production of 185,000 flexible fuel vehicles. The company currently offers 11 FFV models in the United States: Ford Escape, Fusion, F-150, Crown Victoria, Expedition and E-Series, Lincoln Navigator and Town Car, and the Mercury Milan, Grand Marquis, and Mariner.

Gulf oil spill spreads, solutions to stop leak still unclear

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to spread after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on April 20, rupturing the well and killing 11 crew members. Reports say at least 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) of oil are spilling into the Gulf each day.

At press time, the spill’s main contact with the shoreline is reported to be in the Chandeleur Islands off Louisiana, an unpopulated area that houses a wildlife preserve. A May 9 Reuters report says Louisiana officials have closed more waters to fishing and shrimp and oyster harvests as the slick edges westward, threatening wider contact with land. BP Plc estimates that $350 million in costs has already been incurred in the containment and clean-up effort.

BP is trying a number of strategies to both contain the spill and stop the flow of oil from the well, but the efforts are complicated by the fact that the well is 5,000 feet below the surface of the water. Experts say delays in containing the underwater leak increase the chances it could become the worst oil spill in U.S. history, surpassing the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska.

ZeaChem produces ethyl acetate, part of core biorefining technology

Colorado-based ZeaChem Inc. announced in late April that it has proven its core technology platform by producing commercial-grade ethyl acetate, a widely used chemical intermediate that can be sold directly to chemical manufacturers or converted into ethanol.

“ZeaChem has successfully validated its core biorefining technology from fermentation scale-up to concentration of glacial acetic acid and now ethyl acetate production,” said Jim Imbler, President and CEO of ZeaChem. “These results demonstrate ZeaChem’s ability to produce another valuable bio-based intermediate chemical on the road toward cellulosic ethanol production.”

ZeaChem says it is now testing the downstream applications including hydrogenation, which is the final step in making cellulosic ethanol. The company intends to build a commercial biorefinery upon successful operations at its 250,000 gallon per year facility, which is proposed to be built in Boardman, Oregon. The core technology of the facility will begin to come online this year.

American Farm Bureau adds voice in support of extending biofuel tax incentives

The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging Congress to pass two bills that would extend renewable fuels tax credits for five years. In a statement presented for the record to a House Ways and Means Committee hearing in late April on energy tax incentives, AFBF said long-term tax incentives are needed to boost renewable energy technologies and support development of the market infrastructure necessary to make these technologies more competitive.

AFBF supports H.R. 4070, introduced by Reps. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and John Shimkus (R-IL), which would extend the biodiesel tax incentive for five years. In addition, the legislation would change the biodiesel tax incentive from a blenders excise tax credit to a production excise tax credit. This change will improve administration of the nation’s tax laws and protect the integrity of the credit, according to AFBF.

Farm Bureau also backs H.R. 4940, introduced by Reps. Pomeroy and Shimkus, which extends the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit and the Small Ethanol Producers Tax Credit for five years through 2015. The bill also extends the Cellulosic Ethanol Production Tax Credit for three years, through 2015 and the secondary tariff on ethanol that offsets the benefit received by imported ethanol.

“Clean and renewable domestic energy will help America achieve long-term economic growth, create a cleaner environment and shield our energy supply from unreliable foreign sources,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “Renewable fuels are vital for rural America. They create much needed jobs and open new markets for farmers and ranchers. Tax incentives play a key role in the development and production of renewable energy.”

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The American Coalition for Ethanol publishes Ethanol Today magazine each month to cover the biofuels industry�s hot topics, including cellulosic ethanol, E85, corn ethanol, food versus fuel, ethanol�s carbon footprint, E10, E15, and mid-range ethanol blends.
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