U.S. Department of Energy

On Monday, July 14, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of two small-scale cellulosic biorefinery projects in Park Falls, Wisconsin and Jennings, Louisiana for federal funding of up to $40 million over five years.

Cellulosic ethanol is an alternative fuel made from a wide variety of plant materials or non-food based feedstocks, including agricultural wastes such as corn stover; forest wastes such as saw dust and forest thinnings; and energy crops, such as switchgrass. In studies conducted by scientist at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, compared with conventional gasoline, ethanol produced from cellulosic materials requires as much as 90 percent less fossil energy to produce and has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 86 percent over the lifecycle.

Negotiations between the following companies and DOE will begin immediately to determine final project plans and funding levels:

Flambeau River Biofuels (FRB), LLC (Park Falls, Wisconsin)
The proposed biorefinery will be installed in an existing pulp and paper mill in Park Falls, Wis., and will produce liquid fuels from abundant and renewable cellulosic (wood) biomass. The biorefinery will not be dependent on any food-based feedstock materials, but rather on by-product or residuals from forest and agricultural sources. When completed, the facility will produce at least 1 trillion BTUs of renewable energy for the host mill and 6 million gallons of transportation (sulfur-free diesel) fuels per year.

FRB participants/investors include: ANL Consultants, Auburn University, Brigham Young University, Citigroup Global Markets, CleanTech Partners, Emerging Fuels Technology, Flambeau River Papers, Johnson Timber, National Renewable Energy Lab, Michigan Technological University, NC State University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ThermoChem Recovery International, University of Wisconsin, and the USDA Forest Products Laboratory.

Verenium Biofuels Corporation (Jennings, Louisiana)
Construction of Verenium’s 1.5 million gallon per year demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol facility is underway and is scheduled to be complete in late 2008.  The project is moving rapidly to commercialize its proprietary technology for the production of ethanol from a wide array of biomass feedstocks, including sugarcane bagasse, agricultural byproducts, waste wood products, and other non-food based energy crops. 

The Jennings, Louisiana demonstration plant is operated by Verenium Corporation, which was formed in 2007 through a merger of Celunol Corp, and Diversa Corporation.

These two projects are the final round of selections for DOE’s competitive small-scale biorefinery solicitation.  A total of nine projects have been selected by DOE to receive up to a total of $240 million in DOE funding over the next five fiscal years, subject to appropriations.  Including industry cost share, more than $735 million will be invested in these projects over the next four to five years.

This news is part of more than $1 billion in investments that DOE has announced for multi-year biofuels research and development projects; these other announcements include:

For more information on the July 14th announcement: