BioEnergy International to begin construction

By Susanne Retka Schill
At press time, Pennsylvania's first ethanol plant was slated to break ground in January at Clearfield Technology Park near Titusville, Pa., the same place where Edward Drake launched the first commercial oil well in the nation in the 1850s, according to Corinne Young, director of government affairs for BioEnergy International LLC. The 108 MMgy corn-based facility will also be used to demonstrate the conversion of a traditional ethanol plant into a cellulosic ethanol facility.

The Norwell, Mass.-based company aims to be part of the next energy revolution by turning biomass into biofuels, biopolymers and specialty chemicals. Its new research laboratory in Woburn, Mass., was slated to be completed, fully staffed and in operation in January, as well, Young said. The 11,000-square-foot research laboratory will bring together a team to work on feedstock issues, process engineering, pretreatment, microbial platforms with microorganisms and biocatalysts, fermentation, hydrolysis, enzymology, and chemical engineering.
Construction of a pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant colocated with the corn-fed plant will begin after work on the commercial-scale, corn-based facility is underway. Both are expected to be completed in mid- to late 2009. A demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol plant is also under development at an undisclosed location, Young said. BioEnergy International has already partnered with ethanol distributor Lukoil Americas Corp.

BioEnergy International is also developing a corn-based ethanol plant in Lake Providence, La. Although a groundbreaking date hasn't been set, Young said permits are in place and preconstruction work is being completed.
In August, the company received $61.6 million from an investment team comprised of Plainfield Asset Management, Camulos Capital, Itera Ethanol LLC and Context Capital Management. It was also awarded $17.4 million from the state of Pennsylvania. BioEnergy has research and license agreements with University of Florida researcher Lonnie Ingram to develop microorganisms capable of producing derivatives of lactic acid, pyruvic acid, acetate and xylitol.