Mascoma Corporation of Massachusettes has announced plans to establish the country’s first operating facility producing cellulosic ethanol utilizing switchgrass as feedstock. According to a company release, the project represents one of the largest commitments of capital yet made in support of the cellulosic biofuels industry.
Mascoma and The University of Tennessee plan to jointly build and operate the five million gallon per year cellulosic biorefinery. Construction is expected to begin by the end of 2007 and the facility will be operational in 2009. The business partnership and plans for the facility are a result of Tennessee Governor Bredesen’s Biofuels Initiative, a research and business model designed to reduce dependence on foreign oil and provide significant economic and environmental benefits for Tennessee’s farmers and communities. It includes a $40 million investment in facility construction and $27 million for research and development activities, including incentives for farmers to grow switchgrass funded by the State and The University of Tennessee. The large-scale demonstration facility will be located in Monroe County, Tennessee.
The Tennessee project is Mascoma’s third cellulosic biorefinery. Mascoma has begun construction on its first facility announced in 2006, a multi-feedstock demonstration-scale biorefinery located in Rome, New York. In July 2007, the company announced plans to build one of the nation’s first commercial scale biorefineries using wood as a feedstock in Michigan.