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BDC Members Tour API's Cellulosic Ethanol Facility in Alpena, Mich.

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The Bioenergy Deployment Consortium (BDC), Middleton, Wis., USA, recently held its 2012 Fall Symposium in Alpena, Mich., capping the event with a tour of the new cellulosic ethanol plant owned by American Process Inc. (API), Atlanta, Ga., 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 hemicellulose extract from the adjacent DPI hardboard mill, which previously 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, API notes.

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 gal/yr of cellulosic ethanol.

Theodora Retsina, CEO of API, said that "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."

According to BDC, 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 pressure off of 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.

More information about the Alpena biorefinery and API is available online. More information bout the BDC is also available online.


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