USDA Approves Support for Oregon Cellulosic Plant

Cindy Zimmerman

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a conditional commitment of $232.5 million to build a cellulosic ethanol plant in Boardman, Oregon.

ZeachemThe commitment was made to ZeaChem Boardman Biorefinery, LLC (ZBB) through the Biorefinery Assistance Program. ZBB plans to operate a 25 million gallon per year biorefinery to be constructed on an industrial site in northeast Oregon, along the Columbia River.

“In his State of the Union address, President Obama outlined his vision for a new era for American energy—an economy fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources that will be designed and produced by American workers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This project and others like it will help to establish a domestic advanced biofuels industry that will create jobs here at home and open new markets in the Pacific Northwest and across America.”

The biorefinery will use high-yield cellulosic fermentation technology to produce advanced biofuels. The feedstock will consist of approximately 30 percent agricultural residue, such as wheat straw and corn stover, and 70 percent woody biomass from a local hybrid poplar farm. 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. An estimated 51 percent or more of the biorefinery’s output will be advanced biofuel, and the remainder will be high-value biobased chemicals, such as acetic acid and ethyl acetate.

“This is a very exciting and innovative project and we are very pleased to see ZeaChem moving into the commercial stages of cellulosic ethanol production,” said Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC). “The advanced and cellulosic ethanol industry is breaking through in a challenging financial climate, which speaks to the evolution of the technology and the value proposition offered by the most innovative liquid fuel and chemical producers in the world.”

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