Cellulosic Ethanol Joint Venture Receives $1 Million Minnesota NextGen Grant

Jose Michael

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has awarded an approximately $1 million NextGen matching grant to Central Minnesota Cellulosic Ethanol Partners (CMCEP) for support of the project entitled “Second Phase Feasibility Study and Detailed Engineering for Commercial 10 Million Gallon Per Year Cellulosic Ethanol Plant.”

CMCEP is a joint venture between Central MN Ethanol Co-op, Bell Independent Power Corporation (BIPC), and SunOpta BioProcess Inc. (SBI), a subsidiary of SunOpta. Each partner is a one-third owner of the previously announced CMCEP joint venture.

The feasibility study is anticipated to lead to design and construction of the first commercial scale cellulosic ethanol production facility in Minnesota. The proposed facility will be sited adjacent to CMEC’s existing 21.5 million gallon starch-to-ethanol plant in Little Falls, MN.

Cellulosic ethanol will be produced primarily from wood chips from poplar as well as other cellulose-containing materials utilizing SBI’s proprietary fiber preparation and pre-treatment technology. The facility will also provide for co-generation of electricity based on a BIPC-engineered system.

The NextGen Energy Board was established in 2007 by Governor Pawlenty and the Minnesota Legislature to implement an ambitious program for “Next Generation Energy” in Minnesota. These goals include a target for 25% of all Minnesota’s energy to be derived from renewable resources by 2025 and the establishment of targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 (from a 2005 baseline) with interim reduction milestones for intervening years.

The NextGen grant follows a $100,000 matching grant awarded to the CMCEP venture on May 12, 2008 from Minnesota’s Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) for initial phase work.

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