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USDA approves conditional commitment for $25M guaranteed loan for new Fiberight biorefinery

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved a conditional commitment for a $25 million guaranteed loan to build a biorefinery plant with funding support from USDA’s Biorefinery Assistance Program. The plant will be constructed by Fiberight, LLC, based in Blairstown, Iowa.

USDA funding will be used to construct a 55,000 square foot facility that will produce cellulosic ethanol by converting municipal solid waste and other industrial pulps into advanced biofuels, as well as using conventional renewable biofuel derived from seed corn waste. When operational, the facility is expected to produce approximately 3.6 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year.

Fiberight’s Targeted Fuel Extraction (TFE) process recognizes that sold waste is neither homogeneous nor fully convertible to energy. Fiberight’s system bifurcates organic and inorganic wastes and converts them according to type. The TFE process separates, cleans and processes organic and hydrocarbon fractions then converts the organic fraction into cellulosic biofuel, the hydrocarbon fraction into plant energy and electricity, and the inert fraction into recyclables or beneficial products.

Novel technologies such as enzyme recycling and cellulosic sugar concentration have been developed to control costs and the company has tested these processes on a commercial scale. During 2009, Fiberight achieved high yield conversion factors at its Lawrenceville, VA pilot plant due to the evolution of the enzyme catalysts used in strategic partnership with technical partner, Novozymes.

The process will use a cellulosic microbe to produce up to 15% more ethanol than traditional fermentation technology, and reduce energy inputs in the fermentation and distillation process.

fiberight
Fiberight processes. Click to enlarge.

Under the conditional commitment, Fiberight must meet specified conditions before the loan guarantee can be completed. Other funding comes from the State of Iowa. Fiberight also received a $2.5 million grant from the Iowa Power Fund in 2010. The company will work with the Benton County landfill to supply a portion of the feedstock for the project. The total project cost is estimated at $59.5 million. Fiberight, LLC was incorporated in 2007 for the purpose of converting an existing ethanol facility into a cellulosic ethanol facility in Blairstown.

In addition to the commercial-scale project in Blairstown, Fiberight will have a smaller-scale but fully integrated plant operating in Lawrenceville, Virginia in 2012.

Comments

SJC

Some people will be howling about Range Fuels (we can guess who already) but this looks viable and is worth a try. Most people would agree, so if a small vocal minority wants to rant and rave, that is their right. We can just ignore their idiocy.

ejj

"but this looks viable and is worth a try" BY THE PRIVATE SECTOR NOT THE GOVERNMENT.

HarveyD

Getting rid of unwanted wastes may be a public responsibility.

Converting unwanted wastes into useful fuels/chemicals may be a better way to treat or deal with a public responsibility and deserves public funding.

SJC

Odds are they can not get private sector investment because there is not enough money to be made on it. Private sector investors do not care about a country, they only care about themselves.

JMartin

"Private sector investors do not care about a country, they only care about themselves." As they should. It is the Government's role to be concerned about the welfare of the country and its citizens, not the private sector. ejj doesn't seem to see the distinction.

ejj

At what point does the government exceed its constitutional boundaries "in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity"? When you have boondoggles like Solyndra, Range Fuels, Beacon Power, etc....I would say enough is enough with the government loans for renewable energy ---- promoting the general welfare with renewable energy (except for major civil works projects like hydropower) should be done with tax incentives (ie. allow renewable energy businesses to operate tax-free) instead of loans.

SJC

A constitution is a framework establish in the past with no idea of what the future will be. That is why it is subject to interpretation and amendment.

Once thing that IS spelled out is to provide for the "general welfare" among other provisions. It is in the general welfare of all the citizens to have a secure future, free from war and worry about the necessities of life, so we may all prosper and provide a secure future for our descendants.

If the private sector only cares about itself and not the general welfare, then leaving the future totally to the aggregate of those motivations creates uncertainty. So much uncertainty that a calamity like an economic collapse can occur putting the general welfare in jeopardy.

ejj

Enough is enough with the government loans for renewable energy ---- promoting the general welfare with renewable energy (except for major civil works projects like hydropower) should be done with tax incentives (ie. allow renewable energy businesses to operate tax-free) instead of loans.

JMartin

I guess the Government should get out of the highway, nuclear energy, electric grid, and food safety business as well. ejj is correct to ask where the line is, but clearly there is a line. Next time a private company steps up to build a bridge across the Mississippi without government funds or guarantees, please let me know.

Darius

Ejj,
Privat investors are not aliens. Would you invest your ouwn money into such afair without any security with expected 10% return? I gues not. Maybe you would find someone who would go for that but you will not be able get any bank on board since they have loan granting rules which not consider such project assets as viable colateral. And so on....

ejj

JMartin - when is the last time you heard of highway (ie. toll road operators), nuclear energy, or electric grid operators go bankrupt? Enough said.

Darius - Vinod Khosla has taken many risks and failed numerous times. The risk of failure hasn't stopped him at all. http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/25/keen-on-vinod-khosla-ive-failed-more-times-than-ive-succeeded-tctv/ But he is not rolling the dice with tax dollars like Obama.

SJC

Some would rather waste one trillion dollars on war than make loan guaranties that create companies, products and jobs.

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