The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has recently signed an interesting series of Cooperative Agreements with clean energy companies, especially in the area of biofuels. The latest is with ZeaChem Inc., a developer of biorefineries for the conversion of renewable biomass into sustainable fuels and chemicals, and involves a $25 million grant awarded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) through its Biomass Program.
Funded–like so many other green projects on a national scale we’ve reported on over the last year or so–by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the DOE agreement will allow ZeaChem to begin construction and operation of a cellulosic ethanol production facility designed to produce ethyl acetate, the chemical prerequisite to ethanol. The facility is slated for completion in 2011 at the company’s 250,000 gallon-per-year biorefinery planned for Boardman, Oregon.
We imagine this is good new for green-collar jobs in Oregon–a state currently experiencing high joblessness rates–as well as for the future of biomass energy in general. ZeaChem’s approach to biofuels works to leapfrog the yield and carbon dioxide (CO2) problems associated with traditional and cellulosic based biorefinery processes while lowering capital costs.