ZeaChem completes construction of Ore. biorefinery

By Luke Geiver | October 29, 2012

Construction is complete at ZeaChem Inc.’s advanced biofuel production facility in Boardman, Ore., and by the end of the year, the company expects to begin producing. The 250,000 gallons per year facility was finished on budget, according to the company, and will allow ZeaChem to utilize locally sourced willow and other biomass in its advanced fermentation process.

The company is now commissioning the facility, said Jim Imbler, president and CEO. “With construction completed ZeaChem looks forward to starting integrated operations and the production of cellulosic ethanol this year,” he said.

The construction announcement isn’t the only big news this month from the Colorado-based firm. The company also closed a Series C financing round of $25 million. New investors ITOCHU Corp, the Japan-based trading company, and Macquarie, the global investment banking and financial services group out of Sydney, Australia, joined the long list of investors that have backed ZeaChem.

“We are pleased to expand our investor support to new partners,” Imbler said. Both of the new investors have established track records in developing biobased energy projects, according to Imbler, and both investors also allow ZeaChem to expand on a global scale.

In addition to private equity investment, the company has also received a loan guarantee and a grant from the USDA. Most recently, the company was selected as a proposed recipient for a $4.6 million California Energy Commission award that would allow the company to expand a pilot plant in Menlo Park, Calif., and perform a feasibility study on the potential of building a biorefinery in northern California.