Boardman plant produces ZeaChem's first alt-fuels

ZeaChem officials say they've produced cellulosic chemicals and ethanol at their Boardman plant.
Courtesy ZeaChem Inc.

ZeaChem officials say they've produced cellulosic chemicals and ethanol at their Boardman plant.

A Boardman plant is ready to commercialize a biofuel form its operators forged from locally sourced biomass materials such as wood and grass.

ZeaChem Inc. said it has produced "commercial-grade cellulosic chemicals and ethanol" at the Boardman biorefinery. ZeaChem, based in Lakewood, Colo., has the capacity to make 250,000 gallons of what it calls "economical and sustainable biofuels and bio-based chemicals" a year.

The Boardman endeavor, which ZeaChem says is a demonstration facility, is one of the world's first cellulosic biorefineries. The company believes its developments can replace fossil fuel-based products.

"ZeaChem is developing the first truly-integrated biorefineries for the production of a broad portfolio of economical and sustainable biofuels and bio-based chemicals," Jim Imbler, ZeaChem's president and CEO, said in a release.

"The demonstration plant is fully integrated and operating as we ramp up to full capacity. The start of cellulosic production is a significant milestone for ZeaChem as we demonstrate our highly efficient biorefining technology, develop the first commercial biorefinery project and expand global development opportunities."

ZeaChem hopes the Boardman site can produce cellulose-based ethanol and intermediate chemicals such as acetic acid and ethyl acetate, which are used in paints, lacquers and solvents. The materials could provide alternatives to petroleum-based materials.

ZeaChem puts the commercial market potential for the products, called C2 (for their two-carbon structures), at $485 billion.

ZeaChem closed a $25 million Series C investment round in October. The round capped a busy 2012 for ZeaChem. In January, it revved the Boardman plant's production engine and in April, it began expanding the facility.

The company counts Chrysler and Procter & Gamble among its business partners.

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