ZeaChem approved for $232.5M conditional USDA loan guarantee
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA has approved a conditional commitment in the amount of $232.5 million to ZeaChem Boardman Biorefinery LLC through the Biorefinery Assistance Program. ZeaChem will operate a 25 MMgy biorefinery, which will be constructed on an industrial site in Boardman, Ore., along the Columbia River.
"In his State of the Union address, President Obama outlined his vision for a new era for American energy—an economy fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources that will be designed and produced by American workers," said Vilsack. "This project and others like it will help to establish a domestic advanced biofuels industry that will create jobs here at home and open new markets in the Pacific Northwest and across America."
Projected to be operational by late 2014, the biorefinery will create 65 jobs while supporting another 38 jobs with the parent company. Under the conditional commitment, ZeaChem must meet specified conditions before the 60 percent loan guarantee can be completed.
Located in the northeast part of the state, the biorefinery will use high-yield cellulosic fermentation technology to produce advanced biofuels (cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels). An existing 250,000 gallon per year cellulosic integrated demonstration plant at the site is currently generating operational data that will provide information needed for the commercial-scale project, which will be located on an adjacent site. An estimated 51 percent or more of the biorefinery's output will be advanced biofuel, and the remainder will be high-value biobased chemicals such as acetic acid and ethyl acetate.
The feedstock will consist of approximately 30 percent agricultural residue, such as wheat straw and corn stover, and 70 percent woody biomass from a local hybrid poplar farm. This poplar biomass carries a Forest Sustainability Council certification, giving this cellulosic ethanol project particular merit as a model of environmentally-responsible, sustainable feedstock dependence.
The total project cost for the 25 MMgy biorefinery is estimated to be $390.5 million. The development of this advanced biofuel production technology serves as an example of federal interagency partnerships through program support for research and development from the U.S. DOE Sun Grant Initiative; USDA's National Institute of Food & Agriculture; Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Programs; and the USDA Farm Service Agency's Biomass Crop Assistance Program.
This announcement is the second guaranteed loan under the Biorefinery Assistance Program (Sec. 9003 of the 2008 Farm Bill) to be made by USDA this month. Last week Secretary Vilsack announced that USDA funding will be used to construct a 55,000 square-foot facility near Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that will produce cellulosic ethanol by converting municipal solid waste and other industrial pulps into advanced biofuels, in addition to production of conventional renewable biofuel derived from seed corn waste.