Zeachem to start biorefinery in 2011

I was able to attend Zeachem’s conference call yesterday as the company had their groundbreaking ceremony for its new 250,000 gal/year cellulosic ethanol facility in Boardman, Oregon, which is expected to start operating next year. The facility will use poplar, which is plentiful in Boardman, as its feedstock.

Zeachem expects to generate 292 direct and indirect jobs in Oregon from the facility.

Zeachem’s CEO Jim Imbler noted that it will also add the company’s core fermentation technology, which will use the microorganism acetogen to produce acetic acid in the front end of the processing and ethyl acetate as its final commercial product. Ethyl acetate is mainly produced by the esterification of ethanol with acetic acid.

Zeachem expects to start producing ethyl acetate for commercial testing by the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012. Imbler pegs the US ethyl acetate market at around 400m lbs. The company plans to have a joint venture or partnership for ethyl acetate.

Imbler says it will also license its processing.

“Once we get the first plant built, we would be able to build out our business more in the US and then go international – mostly likely via licensing with a partner internationally. We don’t see ourselves going international except through licensing arrangements.” – Jim Imbler.

Imbler expects its first commercial ethanol plant license signed by the end of next year and construction starting the year after.

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