For Immediate Release — October 14, 2008
Tennessee Breaks Ground for
Innovative Cellulosic Ethanol Pilot Biorefinery
DuPont Danisco and the University of Tennessee on fast track to complete construction and begin production in 2009
(VONORE, Tenn.) October 14, 2008 – DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC (DDCE) and the University of Tennessee (UT) Research Foundation, through Genera Energy, LLC, broke ground today for an innovative pilot-scale biorefinery and state-of-the-art research and development facility for cellulosic ethanol, or ethanol from non-food sources.
On hand to celebrate the event were Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and numerous other state and local officials as well as Tennessee Senator Bob Corker and U.S. Representatives Zach Wamp and John J. Duncan, Jr. In 2007 Governor Bredesen and the State Legislature supported the project with a $70.5 million commitment including $40.7 million for biorefinery construction. Those funds are being combined with a substantial investment from DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol to construct the high-tech research facility.
“This morning, we held our first-ever Summit on Clean Energy Technology in Knoxville, and now we are here to break ground on this world-class pilot biofuel refinery,” said Bredesen. “When it comes to facing the challenges of the future, Tennessee isn’t just talking the talk about clean energy technology, we’re walking the walk, rolling up our sleeves and getting to work. The bottom line is that this plant and this partnership are going to do a lot of good for Tennessee’s future.”
The pilot-scale biorefinery is expected to be a catalyst for a new biofuel industry for the state. Utilizing DDCE's leading cellulosic ethanol technology and the UT Institute of Agriculture’s world-class expertise in cellulosic feedstock production and co-product research, the facility will produce cellulosic ethanol as a transportation fuel from two different non-food biomass feedstocks: corn stover (cobs and fiber) and switchgrass.
“I am proud of the role the University of Tennessee is playing in this initiative. It is an important part of our responsibility and our mission as a land-grant university – to impact the state’s economy and serve the public, in addition to educating the young people of Tennessee,” said UT President John Petersen. “Thanks to Governor Bredesen and his willingness to make a bold commitment to economic development, we stand here today at the very forefront of biofuel research. I believe the result of that foresight and the return on that investment can be enormous for the people of Tennessee.”
The pilot plant and process development unit (PDU) will be constructed in the Niles Ferry Industrial Park. A PDU is a research facility that enables both experimentation at larger-than-laboratory scale and more rapid adjustments to process components. With a plant capacity of 250,000 gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually, the facility is expected to produce cellulosic ethanol by the end of 2009.
“DuPont Danisco has the technology package that will lead the way in the market,” said DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC President Joseph Skurla. “We are ready to scale-up, we have economics that can’t be beat and, with the University of Tennessee and the farmers of this great state, we have a winning team that is going to help deliver sustainable, non-food biofuels to the market on an accelerated schedule.”
The University has also invested state research dollars to develop switchgrass as a dedicated cellulosic energy crop. Sixteen east Tennessee farmers – all of whom were scheduled to attend the groundbreaking – participated in the first round of sponsored switchgrass production. The farmers worked a combined 723 acres in 2008 as part of the University’s research into supply chain logistics for cellulosic biorefineries.
The first fruits of the spring planting, bales harvested from about three acres, were on display during the groundbreaking. In two more years the switchgrass established this year will produce even more biomass per acre, and the harvested switchgrass will be used as feedstock for the biorefinery.
The pilot plant is also designed to convert corn stover from western Tennessee to ethanol. Corn stover is the plant material left in the field after the grain is harvested for use as food or feed for livestock. The biorefinery’s construction and switchgrass production are the first major components of the UT Biofuels Initiative, a farm-to-fuel business plan developed by UT Institute of Agriculture researchers. The Initiative models a biofuels industry with multiple commercial facilities supplied by locally grown feedstock and capable of supplementing 30 percent of Tennessee's current petroleum consumption.
DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC
585.256.6973 (office); 585.967.4619 (mobile)
Office of Governor Phil Bredesen
The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture
865.974.7141 (office); 865.363.6009 (mobile)
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The University of Tennessee is the State’s Land Grant University, advancing the three pillars of the land grant mission: research, education, and extension. The University of Tennessee Biofuels Initiative (UTBI) is an example of integrating the University’s core competencies to bring about positive economic development and create lasting platforms for excellence in research, education, and extension. Given the active and longstanding biomass energy and biofuels R&D and programming base already in existence within the UT Institute of Agriculture, UT has charged the Institute with development and administration of the UTBI. In 2007, UT AgResearch, the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station division of the Institute, formed the multidisciplinary UT Office of Bioenergy Programs (OBP) as an umbrella unit to coordinate and administer several biomass energy and biofuels programs, including the UTBI. The UTBI includes the switchgrass farmer incentive program, directly related R&D, UT Extension farmer and public outreach and education, coordination with the U.S. Department of Energy BioEnergy Science Center at ORNL, and developing collaborations and strategic partnerships with other stakeholders.
Genera Energy is a for-profit limited liability company formed in 2008 by the University of Tennessee Research Foundation as a vehicle to carry out the cellulosic biorefinery activities and capital projects of the UTBI. Genera Energy was specifically created to provide the commercial flexibility needed to develop collaborations and partnerships with private entities with technology or other resources to contribute to the UTBI. Genera Energy, which is managed by a Board of Directors, is collaborating with DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol to construct a pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol biorefinery.
DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol, a Delaware limited liability company, is a 50/50 joint venture formed in 2008 by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company and Danisco US Inc. DDCE is dedicated to the development and commercialization of cellulosic ethanol. Bringing together two leaders in the field – DuPont and Genencor, the industrial enzyme division of Danisco – DDCE leverages more than $140 million of investment by the parent companies and over $100 million invested in 10 years of research and development. The company combines DuPont expertise in integrated biorefinery design, engineering, pretreatment, and dual sugar fermentation with Genencor expertise in biomass enzyme and low-cost enzyme production. The company’s mission includes accelerating development of commercial-scale biorefineries, creating value for the renewable fuels and agricultural industries and leading the way toward a low-carbon economy. http://www.ddce.com/