ZeaChem Celebrates Groundbreaking Of Biorefinery In Boardman, Oregon

arial view of ZeaChem's biorefinery site in Boardman, Oregon
Future site of ZeaChem’s biorefinery in Boardman, Oregon.
ZeaChem Inc.

ZeaChem, a developer of biorefineries for the conversion of renewable biomass into sustainable fuels and chemicals, has broken ground for its 250,000 gallon-per-year biorefinery in Boardman, Oregon. The company will build commercial scale biorefineries upon successful operations at the Boardman facility.

The plant will initially use ZeaChem’s core technology, which has been validated by a number of third party vendors, to produce ethyl acetate, a salable chemical intermediate and precursor to cellulosic ethanol. ZeaChem’s fermentation technology has been built and tested at Hazen Research facility in Golden, Colorado and numerous industry vendors have validated the additional process units including acetic acid concentration and ethyl acetate production. Using an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the company will add the cellulosic ethanol production capability to come online in 2011.

“ZeaChem’s biorefinery in Boardman is another example of our effort to attract green companies and advance the development of cellulosic ethanol as a viable renewable energy resource,” said Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski. “Companies like ZeaChem will help drive Oregon’s economy in the 21st century as well as move us toward greater energy security and independence.”

“Projects like the ZeaChem biorefinery in Boardman will help create jobs in a part of Oregon that badly needs them, while at the same time moving our nation a little closer towards less reliance on fossil fuel, both foreign and domestic,” said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden. “What America needs is more renewable energy options to replace the fossil fuels that have proven to be so destructive to the health of our environment. I look forward to biorefineries like ZeaChem’s taking their place in our nation’s menu of energy solutions.”

The Oregon Employment Department calculates that the construction and operation of ZeaChem’s Boardman biorefinery will create 292 direct and indirect jobs in Oregon, 167 of which will be located in Morrow County, where Boardman is located.

“Breaking ground on ZeaChem’s biorefinery in Boardman is a significant milestone,” said Jim Imbler, president and chief executive officer of ZeaChem. “ZeaChem is greatly appreciative of the support from the local, state and federal governments, our investors, project partners and others who have made this possible. As a leader in this industry, ZeaChem is committed to producing economical and sustainable advanced biofuels and bio-based chemicals, creating jobs, and being a good neighbor in the community.”

ZeaChem has a contract with GreenWood Resources (GWR), a Portland-based timberland investment manager, to obtain sustainable hybrid poplar tree feedstock from the nearby farms held under GreenWood Tree Farm Fund, LP. Because the technology is feedstock agnostic, ZeaChem will also process trials of herbaceous crops, agricultural residuals, and other renewable biomass resources. ZeaChem’s “grow where you go” strategy locates production facilities with dedicated energy crops to minimize the transportation and logistics costs of cellulosic biofuel and bio-based chemical production. Contracting with GWR eliminates much of the feedstock price risk and ensures continuity of supply. ZeaChem will supplement its dedicated energy crop supply with additional local residuals.

With groundbreaking on the core process in Boardman underway and the future addition of the DOE grant-funded cellulosic ethanol capacity, ZeaChem is on schedule to begin production of cellulosic ethanol in 2011.

ZeaChem Inc. has developed a cellulose-based biorefinery platform capable of producing advanced fuels and intermediate chemicals. ZeaChem’s indirect approach leapfrogs the yield and carbon dioxide problems associated with traditional and cellulosic based biorefinery processes. In addition, ZeaChem has a significant capital cost advantage compared to other cellulosic technologies. By efficiently extracting the most energy possible from biomass feedstocks, ZeaChem significantly increases output while reducing both production costs and environmental impacts. Incorporated in 2002, ZeaChem is headquartered in Lakewood, Colorado and operates a research and development laboratory facility in Menlo Park, California.

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