Wisconsin Paper Mill Turning Into Biodiesel Plant

John Davis

A 100-year-old paper mill in Northern Wisconsin is being converted to make biodiesel.

This press release posted on the Milwaukee Business Journal web site says Flambeau River BioFuels has received a $30 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to build and to operate a first-in-class refinery that will turn biomass from forestry and agricultural operations into biodiesel at an existing pulp and paper mill in Park Falls:

When in full operation, the biorefinery will produce at least 6 million gallons of liquid fuels per year in the form of renewable sulfur-free diesel. The biorefinery will not be dependent on any food-based feedstock materials, but rather on by-products or residuals from forest and agricultural sources. The biorefinery will also generate at least 1 trillion BTUs per year of process heat that will be sold to Flambeau River Papers, which will make it the first integrated pulp and paper mill in North America to be fossil fuel free.

“This grant supports Flambeau River BioFuels’ goal to be a major contributor in achieving the Federal government’s goal of increasing renewable fuels production and reducing our nation’s dependence on Mideast oil,” said Bob Byrne, President, Flambeau River BioFuels. “With this funding, we will be able to accelerate the retrofitting of this mill from a pure pulp and paper plant to a broader production facility that will produce biofuels within the same facility, thus sharing key infrastructure elements and costs.”

The plant is expected to help in two different areas of the area’s economy on two different levels: in the short term, it will produce engineering and construction jobs to convert the paper mill into a biodiesel plant; and in the long term, it will create highly skilled jobs at the plant and in the area’s logging industry. The plant is expected to open in 2010.

Biodiesel, Cellulosic, Government