U.S. Secretary of Energy attends Range Fuels groundbreaking of nation's first cellulosic plant

By Bryan Sims | November 01, 2007
Web exclusive posted Nov. 6, 2007, at 5:11 p.m. CST

Broomfield, Colo.-based Range Fuels broke ground on the nation's first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facility today located in Treutlen County near Soperton, Ga.

About 700 people attended the groundbreaking event hosted on the future site of Range Fuels' Soperton site. The event featured federal, state, city and county officials, including the U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, State Senator Jack Hill, former state senator Hugh Gillis and Range Fuels CEO Mitch Mandich.

"There was a tremendous spirit there," Mandich said.

The new plant, which has a modular design, will use wood and wood residue from Georgia's pine forests and mills as its feedstock. The plant is permitted to produce over 100 MMgy of ethanol and construction of the first 20 MMgy phase is expected to be fully complete in 2008, Mandich said.

As part of its $76 million Technology Investment Agreement with the DOE, Range Fuels will receive $50 million based upon the project construction schedule for the first 20 MMgy. The remainder of the grantó$26 millionówill be provided for construction of the next phase of the project.

"The state of Geogia has provided us with an excellent opportunity to locate our first plant using its abundant, renewable forest resources as feedstock," said Mandich. "Our technology transforms the wood and wood waste from Georgia's millions of acres of woodlands into ethanol, a key source of transportation fuel."

Additionally, the Soperton facility has been permitted as a minor source of emissions. Its proximity to both wood supplies and ethanol markets will minimize energy expended in supplying the facility with feedstock and providing ethanol to consumer markets, further demonstrating the low-impact, environmentally-friendly nature of Range Fuels' technology.

"This groundbreaking clearly demonstrates that the next generation of biofuels are possible and reinforces the President's goal of displacing 20 percent of the nation's gasoline consumption with alternative fuels by 2017 can become a reality," said Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President Bob Dineen. "Progress like this will additionally help the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing ethanol production from processes that utilize sustainable supplies of biomass, like residue from timber harvesting and agricultural wastes."

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