ZeaChem breaks ground on biorefinery

Colorado-headquartered ZeaChem has broken ground on its 250,000 gallon a year biorefinery in Boardman, Oregon, US.

The plant will initially use ZeaChem's core technology to produce ethyl acetate, a salable chemical intermediate and precursor to cellulosic ethanol.

ZeaChem's fermentation technology has been built and tested at Hazen Research facility in Golden, Colorado, and numerous industry vendors have validated the additional process units including acetic acid concentration and ethyl acetate production. Using an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant from the US Department of Energy (DoE), the company will add the cellulosic ethanol production capability to come online in 2011.

ZeaChem has a contract with GreenWood Resources (GWR), a Portland-based timberland investment manager, to obtain sustainable hybrid poplar tree feedstock from the nearby farms held under GreenWood Tree Farm Fund.

Because the technology is feedstock agnostic, ZeaChem will also process trials of herbaceous crops, agricultural residuals and other renewable biomass resources. ZeaChem's 'grow where you go' strategy locates production facilities with dedicated energy crops to minimise the transportation and logistics costs of cellulosic biofuel and bio-based chemical production. ZeaChem will supplement its dedicated energy crop supply with additional local residuals.

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