Leaders emerging in cellulosic ethanol industry – US ZeaChem

23 February 2012 19:43  [Source: ICIS news]

ORLANDO, Florida (ICIS)--The cellulosic ethanol industry is starting to see the emergence of true leaders in the field, as one producer already plans to start operations at its plant in Boardman, Oregon, the company's chief executive said on Thursday.

“If you go back four years ago, there were all these companies that came out with smoke and mirrors,” said Jim Imbler, ZeaChem chief executive. “Some of those eventually dropped off and now you’re starting to see the emergence of real companies.”

Imbler made his comments on the sidelines of the National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, Florida.

ZeaChem is still developing its biorefinery in Boardman, which is expected to have production of 250,000 gal/year (946,000 litres/year) later this year.

The company is still on working to develop a 25m gal/year commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facility adjacent to the demonstration plant in Boardman.

Imbler said even with the development of its Boardman plant, the industry is still a long way from meeting the US cellulosic ethanol mandate and that there is plenty of room in the market for its competitors.

DuPont is expected to start construction of its 27.5m gal/year cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Nevada, Iowa, this year. That plant is expected to start in late 2013.

Biofuel producer POET and biotechnology company Royal DSM also have a 50/50 joint venture to produce 20m gal/year of cellulosic ethanol at a facility in Emmetsburg, Iowa in the second half of 2013.

“We welcome those guys,” Imbler said.

Recently, though, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), formerly the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), pointed out that there was no cellulosic ethanol produced in 2011.

The AFPM, the American Petroleum Institute and Western States Petroleum Association recently asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grant a retroactive waiver to the oil industry for the cellulosic requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in 2011.

The Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) has come out against any waiver.

Imbler echoed that sentiment and said ZeaChem would continue to support the cellulosic ethanol mandate and that it needs long-term policy certainty to thrive in the industry. 

The National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, Florida, runs from 22-24 February.

By: Brian Balboa
+1 713 525 2653

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