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USDA providing $405M in conditional loan guarantees for three biorefinery projects

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing $405 million in conditional loan guarantees for three biorefinery projects, all of which use gasification as an initial stage in their processes. The Biorefinery Assistance Program (Section 9003 of the 2008 Farm Bill) provides loan guarantees to entrepreneurs seeking to take advantage of the growing opportunities in renewable energy provided by advanced biofuels.

Coskata, Inc. received a letter of intent for a $250-million loan guarantee to construct and operate a cellulosic ethanol biorefinery facility in rural western Alabama. This 55-million gallon-per-year renewable biofuel project will use woody biomass to produce ethanol.

Coskata has been demonstrating the commercial viability of its process for more than a year at the company’s integrated biorefinery, located in Madison, Pennsylvania. The process leverages proprietary microorganisms and efficient bioreactor designs in a three-step conversion process—gasification, fermentation, separation—that can produce fuel-grade ethanol from virtually any carbon-based feedstock, including wood and wood waste, agricultural waste, energy crops, and municipal solid waste. The process produces approximately 100 gallons of fuel from each dry ton of biomass. (Earlier post.)

Enerkem Corporation was selected to receive an $80-million loan guarantee to build and operate a biorefinery in Pontiac, Michigan that will be capable of producing 10 million gallons of advanced biofuel (cellulosic ethanol) per year by refining some 100,000 metric tons of dried and post-sorted municipal solid waste through a thermo-chemical cellulosic process.

Enerkem uses gasification followed by catalytic synthesis to produce synthetic fuels from biomass and waste. (Earlier post.)

INEOS New Planet BioEnergy, LLC will receive a $75 million loan guarantee to construct and operate a biorefinery in Vero Beach, Fla.,capable of producing 8 million gallons-per-year of cellulosic ethanol and gross electricity production capacity of 6 MW. The feedstock for the process will include primarily vegetative waste (citrus and agricultural wastes), yard wastes, wood waste, and municipal solid waste.

INEOS Bio uses a four-step process: 4 step technology process: gasification, fermentation, distillation and power generation. The core of the INEOS Bio technology is the patented anaerobic fermentation step, through which naturally occurring bacteria convert syngases into ethanol. The INEOS Bio process can produce ethanol and renewable energy from numerous feedstocks, including construction waste, municipal solid waste and forestry and agricultural waste. (Earlier post.)

Each company has specified conditions that they must meet in order to complete the loan.

Federal partnerships such the USDA Biorefinery Assistance Program will help provide institutional investors the certainty they need to back technology pioneers in building biorefineries for advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased products...This announcement can help the United States maintain its leadership in developing a biobased economy, using renewable resources for energy, fuels, chemicals and materials.

—Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section

In separate energy releases today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced payments made to eligible producers under the Advanced Biofuels Payment Program (section 9005 of the 2008 Farm Bill) to support and ensure an expanding production of advanced biofuels and $1.6 million in grant funding for 68 feasibility studies under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) (section 9007 of the 2008 Farm Bill). (Earlier post.)


Henry Gibson

This money would reduce CO2 production with greater efectiveness and more speed if used to provide loans for the use of micro-turbines to heat every swimming pool at universities or colleges in the US. The owners of the turbine could pay back all of the money in a few years.

At least most of the factories could convert natural gas into fuel ethanol if no other fuel were available. They should be required in any case to be located near a railroad track for energy efficient transportation and future coal, coke or wood deliveries.


Reduction of CO2 is no longer a prioritized issue Henry. The world wants and needs renewable fuels and energy. The CO2 scare backfired and has been relegated to the dust heap of history.

The good news is by reducing fossil use via biofuels during the transition to electrification, environmental damage is significantly LESS. We get cleaner air, less toxic emissions and lower CO2 by eliminating fossil exploration and production.

Thus even the old school AGWs reap benefit from the use of domestic, renewable biofuels.

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