Cellulosic ethanol a reality: First American plant in production

In a development that could dramatically advance the renewable fuels industry, cellulosic ethanol is now in production at the first small scale waste wood commercial facility operating in the U.S. Located just 1 mile South of Upton, Wyoming, the plant was engineered, constructed and is operated by KL Process Design Group (KL). This is the result of six years of development efforts between KL and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

KL’s cellulosic ethanol plant is converting waste wood into a renewable fuel. “It is now possible to economically convert discarded wood into a clean burning, sustainable alternate motor fuel” said Randy Kramer, president of KL Process Design Group, a design firm that has been working in corn ethanol. “We’re proud of what this small company has accomplished, and believe that our design will be a cornerstone from which we can build our country’s renewable fuel infrastructure providing a better source of motor fuel, starting today.”

KL is using proprietary technologies and newly developed enzymes. “In our experience with enzymes and ethanol production, we have incorporated proven technologies that have been utilized for years in other industries,” says Dave Litzen, VP of Process Engineering for KL Process Design Group. “Through these processes, we are releasing fermentable sugars hidden within the wood, without the use of environmentally unfriendly acids.” KL projects that its cellulosic technology, coupled with new applied design concepts, will allow the plants to build to match the amount and type of feed stock available near large cities, further lessening the fuel’s carbon foot print. KL’s Advanced Biofuels plants will also produce excess electricity and/or steam heat that can provide additional power sources for local municipalities or complimenting biofuel plants and manufacturing facilities.

The current production facility is utilizing soft woods, but successful test runs have occurred making use of waste materials such as cardboard and paper. “Renewable energy from cellulosic feedstock has long been the dream of entrepreneurs and government officials alike,” says Tom Slunecka, VP of Business Development for KL Process Design Group. “Our objective is simple, to help solve our energy needs by supplying cost effective renewable fuels from the excess cellulosic materials that exist across the country and the world.”

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