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Congressman Stupak Says Wood Chip to Auto Fuel Facility First in Nation

Cellulosic Fuel Half the Cost of Gasoline Eyed to Attack Energy Crisis

October 15, 2008       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Charles Wyman and Lee Lynd (left to right) examine an anerobic bacteria culture in Lynd's laboratory.

U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, Upper Peninsula Democrat who represents part of Bay County, says the biomass plant recently announced for Michigan is the first of its kind in the nation.

Mascoma Corporation has received $49.5 million in state and federal funding for a cellulosic fuel facility in Chippewa County to commercialize ethanol that will be half the cost of gasoline.

The new production facility is expected to produce 40 million gallons of ethanol and other fuel per year. General Motors Corporation and Marathon Oil Corporation are investors in Mascoma.

"Mascoma and the Department of Energy recognize the potential northern Michigan and our workforce hold for developing alternative energy sources," Congressman Stupak said, adding:

"Mascoma's proposed cellulosic fuels facility will be the first of its kind in the nation to produce ethanol from timber. This important federal-state-private partnership will put northern Michigan on the forefront of this developing technology, create hundreds of jobs in our community and the potential for many more."

Ethanol made from cellulosic biomass (grass, wood, agricultural and forestry wastes) has significantly lower raw material cost and expands the potential for ethanol to blend with and displace gasoline with a cleaner, renewable, domestically produced liquid fuel. Currently ethanol in the U.S. is made primarily from corn, a relatively expensive and limited supply food crop.

The cellulosic ethanol technology is based on work conducted and directed by Dartmouth College Engineering Professor Lee Lynd, Ph.D. An expert in microbial cellulose conversion and cellulosic ethanol production pioneer, Lynd co-founded Mascoma, and serves as its chief scientific officer.

Mascoma, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm, members of the Michigan Congressional delegation and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, have announced that Mascoma has received a total of $26.0 million in funding from the DOE and an overall contribution of $23.5 million from the State of Michigan.

The funds will be applied toward the development of a cellulosic fuel production facility that uses non-food biomass to convert woodchips into fuel.

The facility will be located in Kinross, in Chippewa County in the Upper Peninsula. Funding provided by DOE and the State of Michigan will accelerate Mascoma's construction of the facility and the scale-up of its technology process while also paving the pathway to commercial low-carbon and sustainable fuel production in Michigan.

"Michigan is proud to partner with Mascoma as a part of our commitment to lead the nation in alternative energy production," said Governor Jennifer Granholm. "This company, and their partners, will create jobs in Michigan as they develop the next generation of cellulosic ethanol that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make fuel more affordable for our families."

Mascoma chose to locate the facility in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan after an extensive review process of other location options. The decision was based largely on the support provided by the State of Michigan, the availability of extensive sustainable feedstock in forests and other agricultural biomass resources in the region, and the expertise available through the Michigan-based project partners and workforce. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the State's economic development arm, has become a national leader by attracting renewable energy businesses to Michigan.

We've targeted industries like alternative energy to diversify Michigan's economy and create new jobs," MEDC President and CEO James C. Epolito said. "Innovative tools combined with effective partnerships are enabling us to attract high-tech companies like Mascoma and accelerate Michigan?s transformation."

"Mascoma is pleased and honored to receive this important funding from the DOE and the State of Michigan," said Bruce A. Jamerson, Chairman and CEO of Mascoma Corporation.

"This funding will allow us to accelerate commercial production of low cost, low carbon fuel that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy independence," Jamerson continued.

Drawing on Michigan's substantial natural resources, the facility will use sustainable harvested mixed hardwood chips and other non-food biomass materials as the raw material for the production of cellulosic fuel. The first phase of the project will develop preliminary engineering designs and permitting required to initiate construction at the Kinross site.

"I applaud the decision by the Department of Energy and the state of Michigan to provide the incentives Mascoma needed to scale up the technology and accelerate construction of this facility here in Michigan," said Senator Carl Levin. "This investment in cutting-edge bio fuel technology will create jobs in Michigan, and the incredible natural resources of the Upper Peninsula will help Mascoma to efficiently produce the next generation of fuels."

"Mascoma Corporation's cellulosic fuel facility is a prime example of how Michigan continues to lead the way in solving our nation's energy crisis while creating new jobs in a green economy," said Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Mascoma is partnering on this project with a well-established natural-resources company, JM Longyear, based in Marquette, Michigan. Longyear was founded 120 years ago and is experienced in timber, mining and project management.

The collaboration will involve the formation of a new company, Frontier Renewable Resources, which will own the project. In addition, Mascoma will team with Michigan State and Michigan Tech Universities to tailor Mascoma's technology and supply chain options for the specific Michigan feed stocks used in production.

Mascoma Corporation is a leader in advanced low-carbon bio fuels technology and is based in Boston, Massachusetts. Using proprietary microorganisms and enzymes developed at the company's laboratories in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Mascoma is deploying advanced technologies that enable the creation of fuel from a range of non-food biomass feed stocks. Mascoma is developing demonstration and commercial scale production facilities globally. For more information, visit

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
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