Valero partners for Georgia ethanol project

By Erin Voegele | December 09, 2009
Report posted Dec. 30, 2009, at 9:01 a.m. CST

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue recently announced that a demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol plant is under development near Thomaston in Upson County. The project, which is the result of a partnership between Valero Energy Corp. subsidiary Diamond Alternative Energy and American Process Inc., is expected to be operational in early 2010.

According to Valero spokesman Bill Day, Diamond Alternative Energy's primary role in the project is financing. A representative of API could not be reached to comment on the status of the plant. However, a statement released by Perdue states that the facility will use API's proprietary biorefinery technology for the production of cellulosic fuels and chemicals.

According to API's website, the company's proprietary technology, which is referred to as American Value Added Pulping, is designed to co-produce pulp and ethanol from wood in an integrated biorefinery application. The company states that AVAP utilizes alcohol sulfite cooking liquor to fractionate softwood chops into three lignocellulosic components. According to API, the addition of alcohol speeds the pumping and preserves the strength of the cellulose. The company estimates that its process can yield up to 22.6 million gallons of ethanol from a mill producing 500 tons per day of pulp.

"The demonstration plant in Thomaston is an important milestone in the commercialization of cellulosic fuels technologies," said Theodora Retsina, API's president, in the press release issued by Perdue. "We have been welcomed by the Thomaston community and we look forward to a successful startup."

Once operational, the demonstration-scale plant is expected to create 25 to 30 jobs. Approximately 10 of these jobs will be research and development engineering positions at API's Atlanta office. The remaining jobs will be based at the facility in Thomaston.

"I proudly welcome Diamond Alternative Energy and API as our newest corporate citizens, and look forward to the positive economic impact this new facility will have for our area," said Thomaston Mayor Hays Arnold. "The city of Thomaston wishes these companies great success and looks forward to seeing them achieve their goals and enjoy a bright and prosperous future as part of our community."