Woodland develops demo cellulosic ethanol plant

By Lisa Gibson
Posted April 19, 2010, at 11:30 a.m. CST

The Bioindustrial Innovation Centre on the University of Western Ontario campus will house a cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant slated for operation in mid-2011. Ontario-based Woodland Biofuels Inc. will develop the facility, with an expected price tag of CA$12 million ($11.8 million) and the capacity to produce about 750,000 liters (198,000 gallons) of ethanol annually.

"The Bioindustrial Innovation Centre is designed to house demonstrations that use biomass as feedstock," said Woodland President and CEO Greg Nuttall. "It is ideally suited for our process." The plant will use Woodland's patented Catalyzed Pressure Reduction gasification process, which can convert multiple feedstocks into syngas for the production of ethanol, acetic acid, reformulated water or power. The demonstration facility will use mainly wood waste. "Our process is capable of producing multiple different industrial chemicals, but we are focused on ethanol for now and our first commercial plant will produce a single product-ethanol," he said.

Woodland Biofuels and its partners received CA$4 million from the Ontario Innovation Demonstration Fund for the demo project. Nuttall said the plant was given more monetary awards, but he declined to release details. The province's investment will help create jobs as part of its Open Ontario Plan, a five-year strategy to strengthen the economy and create employment opportunities. Construction and operation of the plant will create 35 full- and part-time jobs, according to the Ontario's Ministry of Research and Innovation, and if the technology is proven successful, Woodland could potentially hire another 585 employees over the next five years.

After completing the demo plant, Woodland expects to begin construction of a 20 million gallon waste-to-ethanol plant, which should come on line about 18 months later, according to Nuttall.

Woodland uses its CPR technology to develop plants worldwide for companies or organizations looking to manufacture products with waste streams. A typical plant buyer would have access to unused biomass including wood and agricultural residues or biosolids such as sewage sludge, according to Woodland.