Verenium to complete cellulosic ethanol plant

By Kris Bevill
Verenium Corp., a Massachusetts-based biofuels and enzyme developer, has announced key milestones at its demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Jennings, La. The start-up phase has begun on individual systems at the $60 million, 1.4 MMgy facility, and at press time a grand opening event was slated to be held at the end of May.

"We feel that 2008 is going to be a transformational year for Verenium as we continue to make significant progress at our facilities in Jennings," said Kelly Lindenboom, vice president of corporate communications for Verenium. "Our facility is the first of its kind in the United States, and we expect the learning that comes out of that plant will give us the guidance we need to move forward on our first commercial-scale facility by the end of next year. It will be an important landmark not only for Verenium, but for the cellulosic ethanol industry."

Following completion of the start-up phase, Verenium will move into the "commissioning and optimization phase" to validate the implementation of its technology, and to process ethanol at scale. That phase is expected to continue through the end of 2008. Upon successful completion of those steps, Verenium expects to begin construction of its first commercial-scale facility. "The next several months will be critical in terms of scaling our process and technology, and garnering the insights needed to begin construction on our first commercial facility, which will truly be a landmark for the emerging next-generation biofuels industry," said Carlos Riva, president and chief executive officer of Verenium.

Verenium was formed in 2007 through a merger between Celunol Corp. and Diversa Corp. The enzyme technology that Diversa brought to Verenium allowed the combined company to manufacture enzymes on-site. According to Lindenboom, "having all that in-house has certainly been a competitive advantage."