USDA Tours ICM Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

Joanna Schroeder

USDA Administrator Judith Canales tours the ICM R&D Lab. *Photo Credit St. Joseph News Press

USDA Administrator for Rural Business Cooperative Services Judith Canales is on a tour of Kansas and Missouri to promote the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) along with the development of renewable energy technologies. She was joined by several USDA state directors, and along the tour they stopped in St. Joseph, Missouri to tour ICM’s cellulosic ethanol pilot plant Lifeline Foods. The project received a $25 million federal grant to assist ICM in testing biomass feedstocks including corn fiber, switchgrass and sorghum and ultimately to help transition cellulosic technology from pilot scale to commercial scale.

As reported by the St. Joseph News-Press, the USDA, led by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who is expected to be in Iowa this week to tour other advanced biofuel projects, Canales said that her team was visiting the Lifeline Foods campus on behalf of President Obama and Vilsack who are working together to deploy Obama’s plan of fueling the country with domestically produced renewable energy.

She also noted that they are reviewing delivery systems and meeting with key stakeholders to learn about the “new form of ethanol.”

“We are wanting to see the delivery system expand for this purpose,” she told the ICM representatives. “We have been on a campaign to promote the infrastructure development for alternative fuel. We see the answers in the Midwest.”

The Lifeline Foods plant currently produces corn-based ethanol and Canales stressed that corn is not the only answer but one component of a diverse feedstock mix.

Greg Krissek, the director of government affairs for ICM, believes cellulosic ethanol is about five years away. “We’ve built the first span of the bridge with starch-based ethanol,” he said. “The structure of our company is we build for other companies.”

As the next generation technologies evolve, ICM will be there to help the biofuels industry evolve with the new advancements.

“We’ve approached it somewhat cautiously,” said Krissek. “There has to be a comfort level of where this will go. We can’t predict the future totally … Going forward, energy is still a public need. Frankly, our goal is to replace OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) oil.”

advanced biofuels, Cellulosic, corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News