Lignol to build Colorado cellulosic ethanol plant

By Kris Bevill
Web exclusive posted August 29, 2008 at 3:10 p.m. CST

Vancouver-based Lignol Energy Corp., a cellulosic biomass technology developer, has announced that its U.S. subsidiary Lignol Innovations Inc. is moving forward with plans to locate its demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol production facility in Grand Junction, Colo.

The proposed 2.5 MMgy facility will be used to prove Lignol's technology to convert hard and soft wood, as well as agricultural residues, to ethanol. The project is partially being funded by a $30 million grant from the U.S. DOE, which recently gave its approval for the Grand Junction site. Construction is expected to begin by 2010, with production commencing by 2012.

Lignol has teamed with Alberta's Suncor Energy Inc., an integrated energy company, to build and operate the plant. Suncor's U.S. subsidiary, Suncor Energy USA Inc., will operate the ethanol facility. Lignol will provide the technology and, together the companies will contribute the remaining $58 million needed to build out the facility.

Grand Junction was picked as the final location for the demo plant because of its proximity to ample feedstock, according to Lignol Chief Executive Officer Ross MacLachlan. The west slope region of Colorado offers many varieties of hardwood and softwood species, he said. That part of the state also has a need for ethanol. Once running, Lignol's project will be the first ethanol production in that area.

Paul Ludwig, Suncor's manager of government and stakeholder relations, said the demonstration facility will be collocated with Suncor's already existing products distribution terminal in Grand Junction. The demonstration ethanol facility will encompass only about 13 acres of the property, leaving room for a possible expansion in the future. The ready distribution infrastructure was another reason the companies chose to build the ethanol facility in Grand Junction, he said.

Suncor's energy focus has been primarily oil production from the tar sands of Alberta. However, the company also operates Canada's largest ethanol production facility and "wants to be the leader in renewable fuels technology," according to Ludwig.

Lignol's Canadian subsidiary recently received a $2 million grant from British Columbia's government to continue perfecting its cellulosic biomass-to-ethanol process technology. To read the story, visit: