BDC Members Tour American Process Inc.’s Cellulosic Ethanol Facility in Alpena, MI, Which Started Up in June 2012
(Bioenergy Deployment Consortium/MarketWire) BDC held its 2012 Fall Symposium in Alpena, MI on September 18 & 19, capping the event with a tour of the new cellulosic ethanol plant owned by American Process Inc. (API), a BDC member. API’s facility is one of the first and one of three cellulosic biofuel plants to start up this year, along with KiOR and INEOS.
The API process utilizes the hemicellulose extract from the adjacent DPI hardboard mill, which beforehand was treated and discharged as a waste stream. The arrangement provides benefits to both DPI and API. This technology has replication potential in pulp mills and biomass power plants across the industry.
The low-cost feedstock stream utilized by API is hydrolyzed and combined with a special yeast to break down the sugars. When the plant reaches design production, it will generate about 1 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol. Theodora Retsina, CEO of API, said, “This commercial project will prove the economics of using cellulosic biomass as the feedstock for ethanol and other products, which have previously come from petroleum. The Alpena commercial plant will provide us knowledge that we will apply to future projects.”
Cellulosic ethanol has become a reality over the past few years due to the development of special enzymes that can covert cellulose and hemicellulose to sugars that can then be fermented. The progress of competitive cost cellulosic ethanol and other products will take the pressure off the use of food grains for needed ethanol volumes. Bioprocesses that utilize cellulosic materials to produce alternatives to petroleum products are essential to helping reduce the nation’s carbon footprint and green house gases.
Mark Alderfer, Project Manager for the Alpena biorefinery, said, “We were happy to have the BDC group come to Alpena for their Fall meeting and to see the facility that we’re extremely proud to show off. I personally appreciate the opportunity to spend time with my peers in the industry at their semi-annual meetings and tours.”
API is a global leader in the development of technologies for the commercial production of sugar and ethanol from non-food based biomass such as woodchips. The Alpena biorefinery, one of the first U.S. cellulosic ethanol plants, is a model for other facilities that can take advantage of wood waste streams to produce fuels and higher value products, beforehand produced from petroleum.
BDC is a non-profit 501(c)(3), fact-based, trustworthy, and results oriented national organization that is dedicated to educating industry leaders on leading edge technologies, processes, and policies. BDC’s focus is on brokering partnerships to promote the bioeconomy by deploying sustainable processes that do not rely on government subsidy. Today BDC has about 25 member companies that are actively working to recognize the potential of a bioenergy industry.