• Aug 30th 2010 at 10:57AM
  • 9
Yet another cellulosic ethanol project launched recently, this time in Alpena, MI with Governor Jennifer Granholm on hand for the ribbon cutting. The facility will be run by American Process Incorporated (API) and will produce ethanol from waste materials produced by an adjacent hardwood plant that is run by Decorative Panels International.

The Alpena biorefinery will be a pilot facility to prove that API's process for producing fuel, sodium acetate and clean water from wood waste works. The process is designed to be integrated with the pulp production process and API claims it can produce ethanol at about $1 per gallon (where have we heard that before?). API's facility is being financed in part by an $18 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and $4 million from the State of Michigan. If everything works out, API would like to incorporate similar biorefineries with other wood processing plants around the country.

[Source: American Process Inc., Green Car Congress]


Red ribbon day for DPI

Gov. Jennifer Granholm cuts a dedication ribbon at the future site of the Alpena Prototype Biorefinery during the dedication ceremony at Decorative Panels International, Inc. Thursday. News Photo By Krista Tacey

Although there are permits that still need to be issued by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment for construction of a bio-refinery at Decorative Panel International in Alpena, it appears it may only a formality. So much so that Gov. Jennifer Granholm visited Alpena on Thursday for a special ribbon cutting for the proposed facility.

Granholm and other dignitaries celebrated another step taken toward transforming Michigan into a clean energy producing hot-bed globally. Granholm said the local pilot program and others like it in the state, could lead the charge in providing the technology to the rest of the word.

"We are here today celebrating that Alpena has become a center for clean energy excellence. This plant is not just good for Alpena, it is good because it provides great hope for the great future of waste-to-energy," Granholm said. "This perfectly duck-tails our strategy in Michigan and with what we are doing. We are extremely focused on whatever streams we can to convert to energy. Agricultural waste is a byproduct of that and the forest byproducts are a byproduct of that. It's part of the strategy to make Michigan a leader in the nation at providing clean energy solutions to the rest of the country."

Because the plant is going to be a prototype and also be available for others around the nation to visit, study and hopefully mimic. Granholm said it gives Alpena a reason to be proud. "We are so glad that not only the State of Michigan and the federal government recognized the importance of the start up programs so we can demonstrate and commercialize these startup programs here in Michigan and here in Alpena," Granholm said. "It really puts Alpena on the map."

There has been a large amount of investment made by the state and federal government to make the plant in Alpena a reality. The Department of Energy committed a grant for $18 million and the state $4 million. Granholm said the state's portion was actually from the federal government. She said it was money the state could have used to care for its own buildings, but believed it to be more prudent to invest in Michigan's future and created jobs with the funds instead.

"The state received the money because the federal government said it wanted the state's across the country to focus on clean energy and renewable energy solutions," Granholm said. "We could have chosen to take the state money and use it on state buildings toward energy efficiency, but we went to the federal government and said we could use that money for startup funds for companies that have really great projects that we could then use as demonstration projects across the county and obviously create jobs here in Michigan. "

Granholm has made it her highest priority to transform Michigan and make it a leader in waste-to-energy technology. She believes it will create new jobs in the state, but there will be a new governor in January and it is not yet known how far the new administration will continue the push toward "green" employment. Granholm said no matter who the new leader may be, they must continue to move forward with the state's new direction and said she is confident they will.

"I hope citizens remind whoever the next governor is that we can't veer off this new course of adding to new sectors to our economy, like clean energy. It is the natural sector for us to move into, and the word is going to need the products to reduce the reliance rate of fossil fuels. We can be the place where all that is made." Granholm said. "Whoever the next governor is they have to realize they can't turn back, there is no turning back, you really have to keep moving forward. Clean energy is one of the sectors that are really promising for jobs and we need to continue to take advantage of that."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yeah, I really REALLY hope this can work. cellulosic ethanol is awesome since it works with 'junk' waste biomass. Switchgrass, straw, etc.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Stuff like this and algae-based bio-diesel give me hope!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Godspeed, API.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This stuff is amazing! Amazing they want to keep making fuel for a ICE that is 20% efficiant. Preposterous for the light duty fleet.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Coal produces over half America's electricity. Take the 37% efficiency of a coal fired power plant, times 90% transmission efficiency, times 90% battery efficiency, times 90% motor efficiency, and you're down to 27%, and that's not counting the extra weight of a BEV over an equivalent IC.
        Until our power comes from wind and solar, BEVs will continue to spew CO2. It's just the tailpipe won't be located in the same place the car is.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Canadian National Railway didn't buy the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern because they were excited about hauling corn from Huron, S.D. to Winona, MN. It was because the DM&E would give them shorter access than the Union Pacific has to Wyoming's Powder River Basin low sulfur coal. Coal is still the preferred source of new electricity production for the energy industry. Nuclear is ridiculously expensive and wind and solar require a distributed collector grid that we don't have in the empty parts of the country where wind and solar are most viable.

        As a retired farmer, I can also assure you that cellulosic biomass won't be hauled all over the country. Farmers don't stay in business by being sloppy about controlling their costs. Plants will be built close to the biomass sources. Many of these plants will be farmer-owned co-operatives.

        Pure BEVs as presently conceived are mild-climate metro vehicles. They need to get much smaller, lighter, and have much better thermal insulation than present vehicles if they will every become dominant. It is way too early to make firm predictions of where the transportation infrastructure is headed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        fred schumacher said, "Coal produces over half America's electricity. BEVs will continue to spew CO2. It's just the tailpipe won't be located in the same place the car is."

        Take into account the energy to drill and refine petrol and your argument goes right out the window Fred. Or take into account you must ship cellulose material across the country and refine it using mass quantities of electrical power and then ship it back the ethanol. Yes, they say this plant will use waste form a adjacent hardwood plant but they will need far more waste by products than that to produce mass quantities of ethanol. $1 per gallon? We will wait and see.
        You can run 200 million EV's off of the electricity you used to refine the 20 million barrels of oil in the USA each day. Let's keep in mind that we will not go backwards and start producing more inefficiant power plants as the gas and coal industries lobby for but instead we will be producing more efficiant plants as we the public lobby for.

        "Electric powered automobiles, even using the most CO2 intensive coal produced electricity, produce half the emissions of gasoline powered automobiles.

        With the current U.S. energy mix, using an electric car would result in a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions."


        My EV is truly a hybrid as it can use hydro electric, solar, Geo, coal, NG, waves, methane, oil, human waist, nuclear, tidal, wind, hydrogen etc... It uses them all and the ones that both vehicles use, the EV uses them far more efficiantly than a ICE.

        "Electric vehicle 'tank-to-wheels' efficiency is about a factor of 3 higher than internal combustion engine vehicles.

        If a large proportion of private vehicles were to convert to grid electricity it would increase the demand for generation and transmission, and consequent emissions. However, overall energy consumption and emissions would diminish because of the higher efficiency of electric vehicles over the entire cycle. In the USA it has been estimated there is already nearly sufficient existing power plant and transmission infrastructure, assuming that most charging would occur overnight, using the most efficient off-peak base load sources."


        My EV is superior, except it is not working right now. http://www.evalbum.com/1892

        You and the rest can cheer the auto corps all you want about their ICE. Any way you slice it they are archaic old tech machines, though I do admit they keep the auto corps fat and happy, except when they produce the wrong kind and go bankrupt.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm hoping Bluefire (a company local to me) can get going like API soon. They have the same goals but can't seem to get full funding to start full operations.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yeah, I have a lot of pine straw, grass clippings and other debris they can use.
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