ZeaChem Completes Construction of Cellulosic Ethanol Biorefinery
ZeaChem Inc., developer of highly-efficient biorefineries, today announced that it has completed construction of its 250,000 gallons per year (GPY) cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Boardman, Oregon. The project was completed on budget and is expected to begin production of cellulosic ethanol by the end of 2012.
ZeaChem’s core process, completed earlier this year, enables the production of acetic acid and ethyl acetate which are intermediate chemicals for applications including paints, lacquers and consumer goods representing a $10 billion market worldwide. The core process has been commissioned and fermentation of sugar feedstocks has been replicated in 40,000 gallon tanks. These results met and exceeded the company’s design targets.
The next step in ZeaChem’s phased development and start-up approach is to begin operations of the integrated facility for cellulosic ethanol production. With the support of a $25 million investment from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Integrated Biorefinery program, ZeaChem has added process components to the core facility enabling the utilization of locally-sourced biomass, including wood and wheat straw, to be fermented and converted into intermediate chemicals and ethanol.
“With construction completed, ZeaChem looks forward to starting integrated operations and the production of cellulosic ethanol this year,” said Jim Imbler, president and chief executive officer of ZeaChem. “We are executing a phased start-up approach to limit risk, stabilize and optimize operations, and ensure safety. ZeaChem is focused on successfully demonstrating integrated operations and commercializing its highly efficient, economical and sustainable biorefining process.”
ZeaChem also announced it has closed its Series C financing totaling $25 million in new equity to advance its business strategy and commercial deployment. New investors include Tokyo, Japan-based ITOCHU Corporation, a multi-national trading company, and Macquarie, a global investment banking and financial services group based in Sydney, Australia. Additional Series C investors include: Birchmere Ventures, Firelake Capital, Globespan Capital Partners, Mohr Davidow Ventures, PrairieGold Venture Partners, and Spring Ventures. ZeaChem will utilize Series C funds to support operations at the integrated biorefinery and develop its first commercial biorefinery.
“We are pleased to expand our investor support to new partners in Asia and Australia, which demonstrates ZeaChem’s global potential for biofuels and bio-based chemicals,” added Imbler. “ITOCHU and Macquarie have established track records in co-developing energy projects worldwide and the ZeaChem platform is uniquely qualified for this due to our feedstock flexibility and diverse product portfolios. These new international partners provide us with a foundation to expand the company’s operations globally.”