Cellulosic Ethanol Facilities Planned for Louisiana and Georgia

February 21, 2007


Photo of a technician kneeling in front of a complex tangle of pipes, pumps, tanks, and electrical controls and gauges.

Celunol's pilot facility follows in the path of the Bioethanol Pilot Plant, which opened at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory back in 1994.
Credit: David Parsons

Southern states may be taking the lead in cellulosic ethanol production, as efforts are underway in both Louisiana and Georgia to build the first large production facilities. In Jennings, Louisiana, Celunol Corporation broke ground on February 16th on a demonstration-scale facility designed to produce 1.4 million gallons of ethanol per year from low-cost crops and sugarcane wastes. The company has also just completed a pilot-scale facility, capable of producing 50,000 gallons of ethanol per year.

Massachusetts-based Celunol holds exclusive rights to a technology developed by the University of Florida and has licensed the technology to a Japanese company that is currently producing ethanol from wood waste in Osaka, Japan. Celunol's patented production process employs a combination of microorganisms and specialty enzymes to convert up to 95 percent of the available sugars in biomass feedstocks into fuel ethanol. Celunol expects construction on its Louisiana facility to be completed before the end of the year. See the press releases from Celunol and the Renewable Fuels Association.

While Celunol is employing a biological process to convert biomass to ethanol, a Colorado-based company plans to produce ethanol from wood waste using gasification. Range Fuels, Inc. plans to build a facility in Georgia that will employ high temperatures to convert the biomass into "synthesis gas," which will be converted into ethanol in a separate step. Located in a rural area west of Savannah, Georgia, the facility is expected to create 70 new jobs. See the press releases from Range Fuels and Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.