ZeaChem teams up with Procter & Gamble
By Christina Williams
Editor, Sustainable Business Oregon
ZeaChem's Boardman demonstration refinery will be up and running by the end of the year.
ZeaChem Inc. will announce Wednesday a multi-year joint development agreement with Procter & Gamble, highlighting the fact that the biorefinery startup has its eye on more than just the biofuels market.
ZeaChem, which is building a demonstration refinery in Boardman, will work with Procter& Gamble to accelerate the development of new technology for developing bio-based chemicals that can be used in a range of products and packaging.
"We make core molecules that go into a lot of products and materials," said Jim Imbler, ZeaChem's president and CEO.
The first technology platform, which will be put through its paces in the Boardman demonstration plant, is focused on refining feedstocks including poplar trees and agricultural refuse for ethanol production.
Imbler said by working with Procter & Gamble, which last year proclaimed a company-wide "sustainability vision," ZeaChem will be able to speed the development of additional technology platforms.
"We've always been a chemical platform company," Imbler said. "We've minimized that and focused on ethanol, which is a great business and has great subsidies."
Lakewood, Colo.-based ZeaChem will complete its first demonstration-scale refinery in Boardman by the end of the year and Imbler calls Boardman the company's "hub of operations."
ZeaChem has applied for a federal loan guarantee to build a larger, commercial-scale refinery and has locked in a supply agreement for it with GreenWood Tree Farm Fund that indicates it would likely be built in Boardman.
The demonstration refinery, with a capacity of 250,000 gallons per year, will be up and running before the end of 2011 and will employ about 25 people. The commercial-scale refinery would have the capacity for 25 million gallons per year.
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