Colusa Brings in Trial Rice Straw Harvest with Significantly Higher Yield; Cellulosic Ethanol Production Targeted for 2007
Colusa Biomass Energy Corporation (CBEC) has completed its first-ever rice straw harvesting operation in Colusa County, California. The company plans to build a biorefinery to convert waste rice straw into ethanol. (Earlier post.)
CBEC announced that it had collected 6,800 tons of rice straw in a truncated harvest period of 5 weeks, with an average yield per acre harvested of over 4 tons/acre, compared to previous assumptions of 2.5 tons/acre.
These higher yields significantly reduced the amount of acres necessary to be harvested in order to reach CBEC’s target volume of rice straw.
Our average cash cost for collection of rice straw in this harvest was $9.44 per ton. In the full scale harvest we will undertake in 2007 we are confident that total cost (including capital cost) will not exceed $24.00 per ton. This places us very significantly below the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s benchmark for biomass gathering costs of $30.00 per ton.—Colusa CEO Tom Bowers
The Colusa process gathers rice straw without baling it. Avoiding the baling step significantly reduces the cost of gathering biomass.
In the 2007 harvest CBEC intends to undertake a full-scale rice-straw harvest operation using 5 forage harvester units, over the full 10 weeks of the harvest. This full scale operation will produce more 70,000 tons of rice straw, which will be processed into ethanol in CBEC’s biorefinery, on which it is expected to begin construction in 2007.