API has ribbon cutting for prototype plant

By Holly Jessen | July 15, 2010
Posted Aug. 25, 2010

Georgia-based American Process Inc. recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Alpena, Mich., location where the company intends to build a demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol plant. The prototype biorefinery, which will be co-located with a Decorative Panels International hardwood plant, will produce 900,000 gallons of undenatured cellulosic ethanol and about 700,000 gallons of aqueous potassium acetate yearly.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm attended the event. The project is designated as a Bioenergy Center of Energy Excellence and received an $18 million federal grant from the U.S. DOE and $4 million from the state of Michigan. API has invested $6 to $10 million, said API spokesperson Kevin Korpi . Valero Energy Corp.is a partner in the project through its subsidiary, Diamond Alternative Energy. The company may participate in an offtake agreement for API's cellulosic ethanol, Korpi said.

The feedstock for the plant will be wood hydrolyzate from hardwood, which is produced by the hardwood plant in the course of board manufacturing. The company's process, American Value Added Pulping, produces pulp and ethanol from wood, using alcohol sulfite cooking liquor to fractionate softwood chips into three lignocellulosic components. "This plant is not just good for Alpena, it is good because it provides great hope for the great future of waste-to-energy," Granholm said.

API still needs to get some environmental permits, including a DOE Environmental Assessment and a Michigan Air Quality Permit to Install, before construction can start. The company expects permit approvals by September, with construction following in October, Korpi said. The goal is for the plant to be fully operational by the end of 2011.

The demonstration plant will remain operational after the demonstration period. It will be commercially viable and available as a plant "for hire" where trials can be performed.

The plant will create 20 direct jobs for employees, as well as 80 construction jobs, API said. In addition, it will help retain 200 jobs at the hardwood plant it will be co-located with.