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USDA approves conditional $232.5M loan guarantee commitment to ZeaChem cellulosic biorefinery

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved a conditional loan guarantee commitment in the amount of $232.5 million to ZeaChem Boardman Biorefinery, LLC (ZBB) through the Biorefinery Assistance Program. ZBB will operate a 25 million gallon per year biorefinery, which will be constructed on an industrial site in Boardman, Oregon. Under the conditional commitment, ZBB must meet specified conditions before the 60% loan guarantee can be completed. The biorefinery is projected to be operational by late 2014.

Located in the northeast part of the state, the biorefinery will use high-yield cellulosic fermentation technology to produce advanced biofuels (cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels). An estimated 51% or more of the biorefinery’s output will be advanced biofuel, and the remainder will be high-value bio-based chemicals, such as acetic acid and ethyl acetate.

An existing 250,000-gallon per year cellulosic integrated demonstration plant at the site is currently generating operational data that will provide information needed for the commercial scale project, which will be located on an adjacent site.

The feedstock will consist of approximately 30% agricultural residue, such as wheat straw and corn stover, and 70% woody biomass from a local hybrid poplar farm. This poplar biomass carries a Forest Sustainability Council (FSC) certification, giving this cellulosic ethanol project additional merit as a model of environmentally-responsible, sustainable feedstock dependence.

The total project cost for the 25 million gallon per year biorefinery is estimated to be $390.5 million. The development of this advanced biofuel production technology serves as an example of Federal interagency partnerships through program support for research and development from the Department of Energy (DOE) Sun Grant Initiative; USDA’s National Institute of Food & Agriculture; Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Programs; and the USDA Farm Service Agency’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program.

The announcement is the second guaranteed loan under the Biorefinery Assistance Program (Sec. 9003 of the 2008 Farm Bill) to be made by USDA this month. Last week Secretary Vilsack announced that USDA funding will be used to construct the Fiberight 55,000 square foot biorefinery near Cedar Rapids, Iowa that will produce cellulosic ethanol by converting municipal solid waste and other industrial pulps into advanced biofuels, in addition to production of conventional renewable biofuel derived from seed corn waste. (Earlier post.)

USDA’s Biorefinery Assistance Program was authorized by Congress under the 2008 Farm Bill. It provides loan guarantees to capitalize on the growing opportunities in renewable energy provided by advanced biofuels.



“For the liquid biofuels, nobody who has gotten these DOE grants are close to being commercially viable”

"By the time the project folded, federal taxpayers had invested about $84 million and gotten $2 million back. Of that total, $44 million was in the form of a U.S. Department of Energy grant (originally approved for $76 million). The rest was the Department of Agriculture loan guarantee, which was originally approved for $64 million."

Range Fuels failure raises the question: How much risk should the government take with taxpayer dollars?


With 140 million tax payers each putting in 50 cents, you would have to ask the majority of people it they think sustainable fuels are worth that risk. Sure beats 1000 billion dollars wasted in Iraq getting thousands of our soldiers killed.


“For the liquid biofuels, nobody who has gotten these DOE grants are close to being commercially viable”

Tell 140 million tax payers the investment is equivalent to each of them flushing 50 cents down their toilets; then ask the majority of people it they thought sustainable fuels were worth it....I think they'd say NO.


There is a requirement in the law for cellulosic ethanol.. in any case Kosla made out like a bandit from the Range Fuels debacle.. and many people were not surprised.


Making slanderous comments with no substantiation is not nice.


ejj, i agree, most people would say "No". Of course they'd have the wisdom of hindsight.
Just curious, would you support the federal govt financing a LTFR ?


I think people would support sustainable fuels over oil wars.


You really think people would say that they would rather pay $1000 per year for an oil war for 8 years than pay $1 per year for sustainable fuels made here?....really.


All of these loan guaranties and grants were authorized in the ARRA package that was passed in Congress. If you do not want your money spent on this and would rather have it spent on war, contact your Senators and representative from your district.


No, we want the government to radically reduce spending and radically reduce the debt. Yes Bush is partly to blame. Government must pay for what it must do/wants to do & stop doing what it can't pay for.[Converted].gif&docId=598993&xmpSource=&width=800&height=557&caption=


What do you mean "we", as far as I know you only represent yourself. If you have a group of supporters, please point them out.


danm: I absolutely would support a blend of government funding & incentives for the LFTR and traveling-wave reactor. LFTR tech sounds very promising. We must open Yucca Mountain once and for all as well.

Qadir Tapra

Once you get the correct amount taken out and have a bit more cash each paycheck, don't automatically spend it. payday

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