ZeaChem, Northwest partners land $40M biofuels grant
By Christina Williams
Editor, Sustainable Business Oregon
ZeaChem and a Northwest consortium of universities and companies will develop advanced bio-based jet and diesel fuel with a new $40M grant.
ZeaChem announced Wednesday morning that the company will share a $40 million grant with a consortium of mostly Northwest universities and businesses to develop biofuels for use to replace jet fuels and diesel.
The grant is part of a sprawling $80 million award made to Northwest groups that will jumpstart the development of a bio-based fuels industry in the region.
ZeaChem will work with a group led by the University of Washington and includes Portland-based GreenWood Resources, Oregon State University, Washington State University, the University of California at Davis, Evergreen State College and the Agricultural Center for Excellence at Walla Walla Community College.
The new advanced biofuels will be developed at ZeaChem's demonstration biorefinery near Boardman. The first volumes of bio-based jet and diesel fuels will be produced in test quantities in 2013 and bio-based gasoline will follow in 2015.
The fuels being developed under the grant are called "drop-in" biofuels becaue they are chemically identical to what's currently being blended into jet and diesel fuels.
About $12 million of the grant will go to ZeaChem to develop additional processing capacity to process hybrid poplar into 50,000 gallons of jet biofuel per year.
ZeaChem's demonstration plant, on schedule to be operational later this year, will employ about 35 people — 10 more positions being added by the USDA grant — in addition to the 75 construction jobs created by its development.
Jim Imbler, president and CEO of ZeaChem, said the company is working on the design and lining up the financing for a full-scale plant — with a capacity 100 times the size of the demonstration plant — to be also based in Boardman. He expects that plant to come online by the end of 2014. It will directly employ about 65 people.
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