USDA Gets Behind Major Biofuel Project

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing a $99 million loan guarantee to Chemtex International Inc. to support the development of a cellulosic ethanol refinery in eastern North Carolina.

The facility, which will have an output of 20 million gallons per year, will supply fuel to transportation markets in the eastern U.S. It will convert about 600,000 tons of energy grasses annually into biofuel through a proprietary enzymatic hydrolysis process. Approximately 30,000 acres of farm land will be required to supply the facility with sufficient feedstock, the USDA says.

The loan guarantee, which represents 80% of the total project cost, is subject to conditions that Chemtex must meet prior to the closing of the loan.

Through its Rural Development Biorefinery Assistance Program, the USDA has already funded eight biorefineries in states including Michigan, Oregon, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico. These facilities use diverse feedstocks, such as agriculture residue, woody biomass, municipal solid waste and algae.

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