Developer of cellulosic project resubmits grant proposal

By Ann Bailey | July 11, 2016

Pennsylvania-based New Energy Investors has resubmitted a grant request to the North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Committee. The resubmitted grant proposal, which will be considered at APUC’s quarterly meeting July 18 in Medora, North Dakota, is for $125,000

New Energy Investors is proposing to build a $150 million cellulosic ethanol plant in the Spiritwood Industrial Park near Jamestown, North Dakota. In May 2016, APUC denied a $225,000 grant submitted by New Energy Investors. The grant would have been matched by a $75,000 grant from the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp.

The proposed cellulosic plant would process corn stover and wheat straw into ethanol and lignin. Both biomass materials may be purchased under contract from farmers, said Tom Corle, New Energy Investors founding partner. The proposed ethanol plant would use about 195,000 tons of corn stover and straw annually to produce about 13.5 million gallons of ethanol and 90,000 tons of lignin per year.

The Spiritwood cellulosic ethanol plant would use proprietary technology developed by Inbicon, a subsidiary of Danish energy company DONG Energy A/S.  Inbicon, like many investors, has worked on the technology for many years.

Inbicon’s Kalundborg, Denmark, 4-metric ton-per-hour demonstration plant passed 17,000 hours of operation in 2014, using wheat straw, according to the New Energy website. The Inbicon biomass conversion technology combines hydrothermal pretreatment with enzymatic hydrolysis, converting biomass to sugars and clean lignin.

Corle expects groundbreaking on the North Dakota plant to begin in June 2017 with construction completed in spring 2019. The plant gradually will ramp up production during an eight-month period.