Iogen's proposed cellulosic ethanol plant moves forward

By Jessica Ebert | May 09, 2008
Canada's Environment Minister John Baird announced March 14 that Ottawa, Ontario -based Iogen Corp.'s funding application for the country's first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant has progressed to the due diligence phase.

Following that phase, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, a nonprofit government foundation that finances and supports the development and demonstration of clean technologies, will make a final funding decision.

"Cellulosic ethanol has the potential to help Canada meet its renewable fuels standard in a sustainable way," said Vicky Sharpe, president and chief executive officer of SDTC. "With an abundance of potential feedstocks that is unmatched, Canada has a huge advantage in the race to bring cellulosic ethanol to market."

Iogen's application for a Saskatchewan-based cellulosic ethanol biorefinery was submitted to SDTC under the recently launched NextGen Biofuels Fund, which supports up to 40 percent of eligible project costs for large demonstration-scale, second-generation renewable fuels facilities that are first-of-their-kind. After the project's completion, the contribution is repayable—based on free cash flow—over a 10-year period.

Iogen and its partners Shell Group and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are developing a process that uses specialized enzymes to convert plant fiber into sugars, which can be fermented to produce ethanol. "Thanks to our government's allocation of $500 million for next-generation biofuels, Canada is one step closer to making our country's first full-scale cellulosic ethanol fuel facility a reality," Baird said. "With technologies such as this, Canada is well-positioned to be a world leader in the renewable fuels industry."

Iogen currently operates a pilot-scale facility in Ottawa that converts biomass to ethanol. In February 2007, the company was one of six cellulosic ethanol projects to receive up to $80 million in funding from the U.S. DOE for an 18 MMgy proposed plant to be built in Shelley, Idaho, using feedstocks such as wheat straw, barley straw, corn stover, switchgrass and rice straw.

The NextGen Biofuels Fund was announced by the Government of Canada in 2007 and launched by SDTC in September 2007. It is open for applications at any time.