American Process Incorporated launches cellulosic ethanol project in Michigan

By James Cartledge

Atlanta company American Process Incorporated has started work on a waste-to-ethanol biorefinery at Alpena, Michigan.

The company held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the site last week, attended by Michigan Governor Jennifer M Granholm.

The project is supported by a $17.9 million federal grant from the US Department of Energy and a $4 million grant from the State of Michigan, designating it as a bioenergy Center of Energy Excellence.

Located at the Decorative Panels International hardwood plant in Alpena, the API biorefinery will turn wood waste into around 890,000 gallons cellulosic ethanol each year.

API, which has invested $10 million into the plant, believes its process has the potential to be replicated across the state in other biorefineries, pulp and paper mills, and food and agricultural processing plants.

The company completed a demonstration plant in Thomaston, Georgia, in February 2010.

“Businesses across the state are making significant investments that will diversify our economy and create job opportunities in clean energy sectors like biofuels, solar, wind and advanced batteries,” Gov Granholm said. “Projects like this one are helping Michigan become the clean energy manufacturing capital of the world.”

The project has been developed in partnership with San Antonio’s Valero Energy Corporation, and will see Michigan Technical University contributing research to improve fermentation processes.

The research will also look into the use of the by-product sodium acetate for as a de-icing product.