U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement regarding the groundbreaking of a pilot biorefinery and research and development facility for cellulosic ethanol at the Niles Ferry Industrial Park in Vonore, Tenn. Cellulosic ethanol is a type of biofuel produced from wood, grasses, and the non-edible parts of plants.
“This biorefinery will keep Tennessee on the cutting edge of new transportation fuels and put America one step closer toward gaining clean energy independence,” Alexander said. “Supporting emerging technologies like this will help decrease our dependence on oil from foreign countries that are trying to kill us by bankrolling terrorists. Cellulosic ethanol shifts the focus to making fuel from crops we eat to crops we don’t eat, such as switchgrass which could grow all across our state. I thank Governor Bredesen for his continued leadership in making Tennessee a leader in clean energy technology.”
The biorefinery, announced in July, is a partnership between the University of Tennessee (UT) Research Foundation and DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol (DDCE). It will draw on UT’s expertise in using non-edible plants as the raw materials to create ethanol (also known as “cellulosic feedstock production”) and its work with Tennessee farmers to grow switchgrass to be a dedicated cellulosic energy crop. The biorefinery will have the flexibility to process biomass ethanol from two feedstocks: corn cobs, leaves and stalks; and switchgrass. The expected capacity is 250,000 gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually. Ethanol should be available from the pilot biorefinery by the end of 2009.