ZeaChem building cellulosic ethanol facility

Elsewhere in the US, cellulosic ethanol developer ZeaChem has begun construction on its 250,000 gallon a year semi-commercial scale production facility in Oregon.

The company has enlisted Hazen Research to fabricate the front-end fermentation modules and will install the units at ZeaChem’s. The facility is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2010.

The facility in Boardman will be built using skid mounted design, which allows ZeaChem the ability to optimise unit operations earlier in the process and to add more skids as necessary.

ZeaChem’s technology uses a combination of biochemical and thermochemical processing steps to produce acetic acid, which can then be converted to both ethyl acetate and ethanol. Ethyl acetate is worth more than ethanol, meaning the company anticipates that it will not be making ethanol at times.

The company plans to begin engineering its first commercial-scale plant immediately after the semi-commercial process is complete. The commercial facility will produce 25-50 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol a year, beginning in 2012 or 2013. The plant will also be located in Oregon, near the company’s feedstock supply.

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