Masada Resource Group donates biomass facilities, equipment to university

By Bryan Sims
Masada Resource Group LLC, a Birmingham, Ala.-based company that specializes in municipal-solid-waste-to-ethanol technology, has donated its biomass pilot plant facilities and equipment that the company recently purchased from the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation's largest public power company, to Auburn University in Alabama.

In March 2007, Masada was chosen as the successful bidder to purchase the TVA's biomass pilot plant facilities and equipment in Muscle Shoals, Ala. Masada submitted its bid to the TVA as the leader of a collaborative effort with Auburn University and PureVision Technology Inc. in Ft. Lupton, Colo.

The TVA biomass facilities and equipment were used by Masada to conduct tests on the company's proprietary municipal-solid-waste-to-ethanol conversion process, trademarked CES OxyNol, and key vendor equipment that the company is using in its Orange Recycling and Ethanol Production Facility to be built in Middletown, N.Y.

The donation to Auburn University has enabled the school to serve as Masada's exclusive research and development platform, where it will concurrently utilize and refine PureVision's unique fractionation process, according to Masada President and Chief Executive Officer Donald Watkins. "Right now, in working with Auburn, we've increased our yields from 55 gallons of ethanol per ton of garbage all the way up to about 85 gallons per ton of garbage," Watkins said. "We think we can increase those yields even further, particularly if we find a way to use PureVision's fractionation process as part of our overall process."

Having mastered the process of converting municipal solid waste into ethanol, Masada's focus has shifted to explore other biomass feedstocks such as waste from the pulp and paper industries, working with the Alabama Center for Paper and Bioresource Engineering and Auburn's Department of Chemical Engineering, where it will continue to refine its patented CES OxyNol process for biobased jet fuel, Watkins said.