Being "firstest with the mostest" is extremely important when it comes to brand identification and capital marketability of any emerging technology. The significance of being awarded a construction permit out front of the other five D.O.E. grant cellulosic ethanol developers is a milestone that demonstrates corporate determination, operational integrity, local support, and negotiating skills. It will be interesting to see how soon the other developers begin breaking ground.
The thermochemical route to biomass conversion does appear to be more flexible in its acceptance of variable and blended feedstock. Using heat instead of enzymes to break molecular bonds not only saves the price of enzymes but dramatically reduces the need for water - not an insignificant issue, particularly in the face of mounting concern about global warming's impact on water resources.
Emissions control technologies have advanced greatly in the past two decades, particularly when attached to closed cycle pyrolytic or gasification systems. Their fundamental purpose is to use the bulk of the emissions (syngas) as a raw material for conversion to biofuels and green chemicals.
Below is the complete press release from Range Fuels today:
Range Fuels awarded permit to construct the nation’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant
Independence Day marks the start of our country’s independence from fossil fuels
Palo Alto, CA. and Broomfield, CO – July 2, 2007 –Range Fuels announced today that the company was awarded a construction permit from the state of Georgia to build the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in the United States. Ground breaking will take place this summer in Treutlen County, Georgia for a 100-million-gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol plant that will use wood waste from Georgia’s forests as its feedstock. Phase 1 of the plant is scheduled to complete construction in 2008 with a production capacity of 20 million gallons a year.
“We are thrilled to receive this permit and anticipate the construction of many plants throughout Georgia and the Southeast using wood waste to make ethanol,” said Mitch Mandich, CEO of Range Fuels. “With Independence Day on July 4, we are excited to begin the march toward independence from our country’s reliance on fossil fuel.”
“Cellulosic ethanol offers tremendous promise for not only the development of an alternative energy source, but also rural economic development for our state,” said Sonny Perdue, Governor of Georgia. “We look forward to the construction of this plant and are hopeful this is the first of many more to come.”
"The Department is pleased that the country is one step closer to making the widespread use of cellulosic ethanol a reality," U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman said. "This furthers the President's goal of deploying clean, renewable energy into the marketplace, and we are eager for the results of Range Fuels’ work, and the work of the other biorefinery grant recipients, to help increase energy security and enhance economic growth."
Range Fuels is at the forefront of new proprietary technology for producing cellulosic ethanol. While most domestic ethanol production requires corn as a feedstock, Range Fuels' proprietary process does not. The country’s ability to make corn ethanol is limited by the agricultural land available to grow it. The latest estimates predict that corn ethanol can only produce up to 15 billion gallons per year. On the other hand, the U.S. Department of Energy, in their joint report with the USDA, has identified over one billion tons of biomass annually that could be converted to biofuels, like ethanol. Range Fuels’ technology can transform all of this biomass, including wood chips, agricultural wastes, grasses, and cornstalks as well as hog manure, municipal garbage, sawdust and paper pulp into ethanol. The company has already successfully tested close to 30 types of biomass for producing ethanol.
The company’s technology completely eliminates enzymes which have been an expensive component of cellulosic ethanol production. Range Fuels’ thermo-chemical conversion process, the K2 system, uses a two step process to convert the biomass to synthesis gas, and then converts the gas to ethanol. In addition to the ability to process a broad range of potential biomass feedstock, the K2 system benefits from a modular design. Depending upon the quantity and availability of feedstock, the K2 system can scale from entry level systems to large configurations. This range of system size allows placement of the K2 near the biomass source reducing transportation costs, and will allow the most appropriate size system to be deployed.
The company selected Georgia for its first plant based upon the abundance of forest refuse and the renewable and sustainable forest industry. The state has demonstrated great stewardship of its forest lands and environmental sensitivity. The forests of Georgia can support up to 2 billion gallons a year of cellulosic ethanol production.
Range Fuels, with Governor Perdue, announced plans to build the plant on February 7 of this year. The company was subsequently selected to negotiate for up to $76M in a grant from the Department of Energy on February 28. These negotiations are still underway.
technorati BIOstock, biomass, cellulosic, forestry