North Dakota and Montana: Opportunity Knocks for the Bioeconomy, along the Northern Tier
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) Despite low levels of publicity, North Dakota and Montana are making great strides in bioeconomy development – with a combination of strong R&D, feedstock abundance and some hot processing technologies.
…The bioeconomy has been getting a move on in the Peace Garden State, too. To date, North Dakota has developed 370 million gallons in ethanol production capacity – almost exactly the state’s motor gasoline usage.
… Data from the State Tax Department shows that the number of barrels sold has gone from 663,000 to 1.3 million in the last year. This jump correlates with a program run in North Dakota whereby retailers have been provided with a $5,000 grant incentive for each blender pump installed.
One of the more ambitious schemes is focused on the development of energy beets.
…The project seeks to establish a crop insurance program for energy beets; engineer and evaluate new front-end energy beet processing methods; expand regional energy beet research trials; scale up whole-energy beet and juice storage technology to enable year-round processing; and inform producers, community developers and the biofuel industry of the emerging opportunity. In addition, the group has applied for classification of energy beets as an advanced biofuel feedstock from the EPA.
On the drawing board for the future – up to twelve 20 million gallon sugar beet ethanol facilities, and there’s been feasibility work on developing cellulosic ethanol at the Spiritwood complex, cellulosic biomass (primarily from wheat and corn residues).
…(In Montana) (t)he activity really got underway in 2008 when AE Biofuels (now Aemetis) built and commissioned a 9,000-square foot integrated cellulose and starch ethanol commercial demonstration facility to optimize its Ambient Temperature Starch/Cellulose Hydrolysis technology. The ATSCH process utilizes consolidated bio processing (CBP) technology to simplify the enzyme pre-treatment and yeast fermentation processes at existing ethanol plants into one step that eliminates the up-front cooking process and reduces water usage.
…Last summer, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the creation of a Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project area in California, Montana, Washington and Oregon, to grow camelina on 51,000 acres. The project sponsors are Beaver Biodiesel and AltAir Fuels. READ MORE