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Fulcrum BioEnergy breaks ground on Sierra BioFuels Plant

Peaks in the Sierra Nevada mountain range (Wikimedia Commons/Miguel.v)
Peaks in the Sierra Nevada mountain range (Wikimedia Commons/Miguel.v)

Fulcrum BioEnergy began site construction for phase 2 of its first waste-to-fuels project, the Sierra BioFuels Plant (Sierra), on 16 May. Sierra will be ‘the US' first’ commercial-scale plant converting a municipal solid waste feedstock that would otherwise be landfilled, into a low-carbon, renewable transportation fuel product.

"Launching the final construction phase of Sierra is another milestone for Fulcrum, our partners, Northern Nevada and the low-carbon fuels industry," Jim Macias, Fulcrum's president and CEO said at the ground-breaking event. "We've spent ten years developing, designing, testing, improving and demonstrating this new process so that it is now ready for commercial deployment. By converting waste into low-carbon transportation fuel, Fulcrum provides a real solution to the aviation industry's commitment to reduce carbon emissions."

Located in Nevada, Sierra will utilise Fulcrum's proprietary thermochemical process to convert household waste into low-carbon transportation fuels. Fulcrum says that its process has multiple social and environmental benefits, including extending the life of landfills and reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Compared to the use of traditional petroleum transportation fuel, Fulcrum is hoping its process will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80%.

When the plant begins commercial operations in the first quarter of 2020, Sierra will convert approximately 175,000 tons (over 158,000 tonnes) of household garbage into more than 10.5 million gallons (47.7 million litres) of fuel each year.

Fulcrum is developing future projects that follow the same approach as Sierra, with fixed feedstock costs, fuel offtake prices hedged against oil, plant performance guaranteed and a low-cost of production that provides attractive operating margins. As construction proceeds on Sierra, engineering, siting and permitting activities are underway for the company's next projects near large US metropolitan areas, where Fulcrum has already secured long-term supplies of feedstock, fuel logistics and fuel offtake agreements. Collectively, these future plants are expected to have the capacity to produce more than 300 million gallons (1.3 billion litres) of jet fuel annually.

Peaks in the Sierra Nevada mountain range (Wikimedia Commons/Miguel.v)