A new pilot plant that broke ground in Tennessee last week will be testing the use of switchgrass as a feedstock for cellulosic ethanol.
Genera Energy is a partnership between the University of Tennessee and DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC, a joint venture formed this year by DuPont and Genencor to commercialize cellulosic ethanol. On hand to celebrate the groundbreaking October 14 with company representatives were Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and numerous other state and local officials, as well as local area farmers who will be growing the switchgrass to feed the plant. A John Deere tractor was used for the ceremonial groundbreaking.
Earlier in the day, Governor Bredesen participated in the state’s first-ever Summit on Clean Energy Technology in Knoxville. “When it comes to facing the challenges of the future, Tennessee isn’t just talking the talk about clean energy technology, we’re walking the walk, rolling up our sleeves and getting to work,” said Bredesen. “The bottom line is that this plant and this partnership are going to do a lot of good for Tennessee’s future.”
Besides switchgrass, the pilot plant is also designed to convert corn stover from western Tennessee into ethanol. The biorefinery’s construction and switchgrass production are the first major components of the UT Biofuels Initiative, a farm-to-fuel business plan developed by UT Institute of Agriculture researchers.