On Friday April 18, 2014, American Process shipped its second commercial ethanol cargo and sold the first cellulosic ethanol RINs from its Alpena Biorefinery.
These are the first cellulosic ethanol RINs generated since the beginning of 2013. These are also the first ever commercial cellulosic ethanol RINS generated from woody biomass in in the US. We believe that American Process is also likely the first company in the world to produce commercial quantities of cellulosic ethanol from mixed forest residue.
I reached Theodora Retsina, the founder and CEO of American Process, to congratulate her and discuss with her the meaning of this unique achievement.
Theodora said, “Thank you Jim. This is a start; it is a time to be proud but not to gloat. Instead, we should do two things. First, we should send a message of encouragement to everybody in our community of biorefineries, to persevere and to overcome the many difficulties that we all face. It is difficult, takes longer that we all think, but it is possible and our industry will grow and thrive.
“Second, it is a time to remember and thank all the people that made this day possible. I want to recognize and thank all my colleagues at American Process whose perseverance, hard work and continuous innovation helped us arrive at this moment. At American Process we truly view every problem as an opportunity!
“I also want to recognize the significant financial support given to the Alpena Biorefinery from the MEDC and thank Governor Granholm who pioneered this program that built the Alpena Biorefinery which today employees over 30 people and is forecast to produce approximately1 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol when at capacity. I want to thank the city of Alpena who welcomed us and continue to support us.
“I want to state emphatically that the Alpena Biorefinery would not have existed without the financial support of the DOE. The Alpena Biorefinery was the winner of one of the integrated biorefinery demonstration awards from the DOE. Besides this financial commitment, the DOE employees have been with us along the way helping in many other ways, encouraging and supporting us on our journey to this day.
“There are also many other people and companies who have supported us along the way. I want to recognize and thank our feedstock partner DPI, Senator Stabenow for her continued support, our construction partner Devere, our ethanol marketer, Tenaska, our GMO yeast provider Dr. Nancy Ho, the NMTC program and specifically RDP, CCML and Wells Fargo who helped with the NMTC finance and Michigan Tech and Georgia Tech for their technological support.
“A most significant thank you and recognition goes also to GranBio, who in 2013 became our partner and shareholder. We have benefited not only from their investment, but their CEO Bernardo Gradin brought to us a vision and a resolve that is necessary to build a transformational industry. We look forward to more cellulosic ethanol being sold in US by GranBio’s Bioflex 1 plant very soon.”
So I asked Theodora, What next?
“Jim, the Alpena Biorefinery is a near-commercial demonstration plant of our GreenPower+ technology, which produces C5 sugars and/or ethanol from the hemicelluloses of any type of biomass. We have already sold our first commercial license of this technology and we hope more will follow soon.
“We also have a second demonstration facility in Georgia which is currently producing clean cellulosic sugars from various types of biomass using our AVAP technology. These sugars have been tested by a number of chemical companies that have successfully transformed them both catalytically and fermentatively to downstream building block chemicals. The AVAP technology is living up to our logo that indeed, “Sugar is the new crude”.
“Finally, there is a new development that we pioneered in 2013. Using our AVAP front end, we have developed a transformational way to produce low cost and very high crystallinity nanocellulose – both nanocrystals and nanofibrils. This new discovery has removed the cost barrier to nanocellulose applications. Nanocellulose can now compete in price and performance characteristics with fossil derived products. The market potential for nanocellulose is vast. The USDA estimates that the short-term market is over 34 million tons per year. Nanocellulose can replace and/or complement plastics, oil and fracking drilling fluid, emulsifiers and has many other applications. It can be used to strengthen and reduce the weight of automotive components, contributing to overall vehicle fuel efficiency. And it is renewable, compostable, biocompatible and abundant.
“Jim, I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to share our news with you and I want to encourage you to keep us all going by sharing everybody’s success with all of us in the community.”
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