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Pennsylvania Announces Major Corn-Ethanol Plant, Cellulosic-Ethanol Pilot Plant

17 August 2006

Pennsylvania’s first ethanol production facility will locate in Clearfield County, according to Governor Ed Rendell.

Bioenergy International will build and operate the 108-million-gallon corn-based ethanol plant, and Lukoil Americas—the US arm of Russian oil major Lukoil—will be the exclusive distributor of the finished product. In addition to the corn-ethanol plant, BioEnergy is building a smaller pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant using Bioenergy’s technology to produce the fuel from organic wastes such as wood and agricultural residue.

At the announcement, the Governor presented BioEnergy with $17.4 million in state investments to support the $250 million project. The majority of these funds, $180 million, will support the building of the primary plant, with the remaining $70 million going towards the development of the pilot-scale cellulose demonstration plant.

The primary plant will employ conventional corn-based technology and will be among the largest east of the Mississippi River, and one of the nation’s top 10, based on output. BioEnergy will use process design from Delta-T.

The growth potential for cellulosic ethanol is substantial. The commonwealth contains enough plant matter to produce in excess of 500 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year. In addition, Pennsylvania very well could be the nation’s leading producer of soy biodiesel within the year, going from practically zero last year to a projected 40 million gallons of annual production as more than 20 proposed biodiesel projects are in various stages of development throughout the state.

The return on this investment will be beyond measure. Ethanol production will provide a significant contribution to Pennsylvania's economy, impacting everyone from the farmers who grow the corn, the plant employees who manufacture the fuel, and the motorists who use it in their automobiles.

—Governor Rendell

Bioenergy International is focused on the early commercialization of products produced by microbial fermentations of sugars derived from biomass. It is currently working on improving its process technology for cellulosic ethanol production, especially including the fermentation of sugars generated from the processing of the cellulose components of agricultural wastes to extend and cost improve its corn-based process technology. Its goal is to have this technology ready for commercial deployment by 2008.

The company’s second priority is the development of technologies for the production of specialty chemicals via the microbial fermentation of biomass sugars, including the cellulosic pentose and hexose sugar components. To that end, BioEnergy has obtained an exclusive, worldwide license from the University of Florida to technology developed by Dr. Lonnie Ingram and the University that includes organisms modified to ferment all sugars derived from biomass to produce selected specialty chemicals; the process technology for genetically engineering the organisms; and the development of the organisms for commercialization, excluding ethanol.

Celunol (formerly BC International), another cellulosic ethanol provider, has an exclusive license to the University of Florida/Ingram technology for the microbial production of ethanol from biomass. The process uses genetically engineered E. coli bacteria. (Earlier post.)

Celunol is currently building a cellulosic ethanol commercial demonstration facility in Jennings, Louisiana. (Earlier post.)

August 17, 2006 in Biotech, Cellulosic ethanol, Ethanol | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

Sounds like a decent program. I am in favor of anything that gets us off of buying oil from the middle east. It could also put americans back to work growing soy beans and corn.

Too bad the people in DC are not as open minded as the people at the state and local level are. The states really are way ahead on issues like this.

Kyle Dansie

Kyle,
Better yet, sweet sorghum. It will tide us over until better sources come online.

Kyle,
The bulk of this news is corn-based
It takes too much corn to create a modest amount of automotive fuel. The grain required to fill a SUVs 25-gallon gas tank with ethanol, for instance, could feed one person for a year. If today's entire U.S. grain harvest were converted into fuel for cars, it would satisfy only 15% of current U.S. demand, and the hungry/poor will only get hungrier and poorer..

Come on...you guys know about sugarcane bagasse and ag waste cellulose. You can have your food and fuel too. Same fields, same plows, same fertilizer. In fact, if you gasify the lignin you can get all the fertilizer you want, without natural gas.

Not quite sjc,
No matter how you slice it, there just is not enough ag waste (USDA & DOE estimates a third of US oil use) or land to do a full production of current US oil demand.

Beyond the obvious solution (get working on that one-third!), the following are your (sensible) options:
1. Conserve
2. Grow an energy crop

Let's start with #2. To grow the best energy crop, it should be obvious that you need to maximize yield (t/acre.y or t/ha.y). The obvious answer is algae (30 times the yield of any terrestrial plant). As for fertilizer and water requirements: if you used sewage you get both for free, and produce clean water as a byproduct. You would also be converting some of the good stuff in the sewage into fuel.

As for conservation, consider this: if the US used as little fuel per person as the much touted Brazil (one-sixth), it would be an oil exporter. Tell me again, Mr. Cheney, why conservation is a "personal virtue"?

And BTW, enough with ethanol already. Why convert biomass into ethanol with all its issues (can't be pumped with gasoline in existing pipelines due to corrossion, high vapor pressure of E15 and E85, lower energy content than gasoline, evaporative losses, etc.) if you can convert it to the same gasoline and diesel we are driving on right now (using Gasification/Fischer-Tropsch)? Sidebenefit: No need to replace the existing fleet with FlexFuel vehicles (sorry GM).

Brazil's per capita income is only a little better than a sixth of ours, too. Coincidence?

I was not claiming that it would eliminate all oil imports, I was responding to the whining about food/fuel. Cellulose biofuels give you both. If cellulose biofuels reduce the oil imports, that is great. If they clean up the air, even better.
It seems like people keep coming down with "if it does not solve the whole problem, why bother"...listen, we are going to have to use everything we have and more real soon. The sooner we stop trashing each other and get with it, the better.

In the relatively near future other bio-fuels such as celluouse, switchgrass, etc. will replace corn for making ethanol. I see a future market for a slightly different type of ethanol along with a hydrogen generator (which already exists for about $600), which will vastly improve the mileage of the slightly altered ethanol thus completely eliminating the need for gasoline altogether. The ethanol will not have any gasoline in it at all. It will be denatured by something other than gasoline. We will have the benefits of a green fuel, the Arabs can sit on their oil fields, prices for this slightly different ethanol will be around $1.50 - $2.00 per gallon and everybody should be happy - except the Arabs.

WE NEED TO CONTINUE TO FIND WAYS TO GET OUR STATE & NATION OFF THE DEPENDANCE OF FOREIGN OIL WE SUPPORT
NOT ONLY THERE ECONOMIES BUT ALSO TERRORISM THAT IS
KILLING OUR TROOPS & OUR SAFETY HERE AT HOME THINK ABOUT IT WHERE ELSE WOULD THEY GET THER MONEY OTHER
THAN OPIUM THAT THEY GROW FOR DRUGS.AS FAR AS PA.I
CONGRATULATE THE GOV. FOR FUNDING FIRST ETHANOL PLANT IN PA. CLEARFIELD, I HOPE THAT WE FIRST SUPPORT OUR PA
FARMERS BEFORE GOING ELSEWHERE FOR GRAIN & RAW MATERIALS
WE HAVE ALOT OF FARMLAND THAT IS IN CREP THAT I THINK
SHOULD BE REEVALUATED FOR CELLULOSIC FUEL PURPOSES.
PLANTING OF NO TILL GRASSES &OTHER PLANTS THAT CAN BE HARVESTED WITHOUT DISTURBING THE LANDSCAPE.

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