The U.S. Department of Energy awarded grants for three small-scale biorefinery projects this week in Maine, Tennessee and Kentucky.
In announcing the grants, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said, “These projects will help pioneer the next generation of non-food based biofuels that will power our cars and trucks and help meet President Bush’s goal to stop greenhouse gas emissions growth by 2025.”
Among the projects is a grant of up to $30 million to help pay for a $70 million cellulosic ethanol plant to be built in Springfield, Kentucky.
The plant will be built by Ecofin LLC, a subsidiary of Alltech, an international company headquartered in Lexington that is primarily focused on animal nutrition. The plant will utilize cellulose, such as switch grass, corn cobs and corn stover, at raw material levels of up to 30 percent to be converted to ethanol and other value-added products. The facility will also have the capability to produce algae for biodiesel production.
Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech, said in a statement, “With commodity prices reaching an all time high and with ethanol production forecast to account for 30 percent of the U.S. corn harvest by 2010 we must focus our attention on a sustainable path to alternative energies.”
Mascoma Corporation of Massachusetts received a grant of up to $26 million for a proposed plant to be located in Monroe County, Tennessee. The facility is scheduled to come online in 2009 and will utilize Tennessee grown switchgrass as a primary feedstock.
The third funded project is up to $30 million for RSE Pulp & Chemical of Old Town, Maine to produce cellulosic ethanol from wood.