Fiberight: Biofuels Digest’s 2015 5-Minute Guide

May 6, 2015 |

5-Minute-Guide-logoFiberight is a privately held company founded in 2007 with current operations in Virginia, Maryland and Iowa. The company focuses on transforming post-recycled municipal solid wastes and other organic feedstocks into next generation renewable biofuels, with cellulosic ethanol and renewable compressed natural gas as core products. Pilot plant facilities have been on-going during 2008-2009.

In November 2009, Fiberight purchased a shuttered dry-mill corn ethanol plant in Blairstown, IA with the intent to cost efficiently retrofit this plant for commercial level operations. Initial stage investment for the company’s $30 million Iowa plant will enable the company to commence the production of cellulosic ethanol and biogas using industrial and municipal solid wastes with proprietary sorting, pulping, enzymatic hydrolysis and recycling technology.

The Situation

After seven years of research and development, including 3,500 hours of continuous operation at a fully-integrated plant in Virginia, Fiberight said it was switching gears and rather than build a garbage-to-ethanol facility at a mothballed ethanol plant in Blairsville, the company will instead produce biogas for CNG from the garbage. The move comes as a result of federal credits for creating on-site biogas while attracting investment for MSW-to-ethanol is “very difficult at the moment”. The company hopes to pick up the ethanol plans in the future but for now they are on hold.

The Fiberight Process

  • “Waste” picked up by a garbage hauler, is delivered to the Marion MRRF at a cost competitive to landfill tip fees (and in some cases less).
  • The first sort removes really small materials (such as kitty litter, small rocks, dirt, etc.) and really large materials (cardboard, clean wood waste, electronics, large plastic toys, etc.) The remaining materials are conveyed to a state-of-the-art automated sorting system where they are sorted and separated for further processing and / or recycling. Food waste, compostables, non-recyclable papers and other organics that create a bio-mash are shipped to Blairstown.  This is where natural, bio-chemical processes and the work of enzymes, produce natural gas and cellulosic ethanol or Trashanol. Paper, plastics, metals and other recyclable materials are baled and shipped to manufacturers who make new products out of our old products.

Top Past Milestones

In December 2014, plans to develop a $40 million to $80 million Fiberight waste-to-energy plant in Hamden took its first official baby steps when developers from the Municipal Review Community that represents the solid waste for 190 towns in the state put forward the project for review by the Hampden Town Council. City planners as well as state authorities need to sign off on the plan in order to implement it.

In July 2014, ANDRITZ received an order to supply equipment, engineering, and field services for Fiberight’s cellulosic ethanol plant in Blairstown, Iowa, USA. Start-up is planned for the first quarter of 2015. The ANDRITZ technology will be used for continuous pre-treatment of municipal solid waste feedstock which will then be converted into cellulosic ethanol using Fiberight’s existing fermentation and distillation processes. ANDRITZ’s technology utilizes a unique steam heating concept to continuously preheat and cook the feedstock at elevated temperatures, producing an average of 200 bdmt/d of pretreated material.

In March 2014, Fiberight said it is investing $15 million to convert a former ethanol plant in Blairstown to produce fuel using its waste-to-ethanol technology. Already this summer it will start building a garbage sorting, shredding and recycling facility in nearby Marion that will eventually mean 80% of the waste that goes to the area’s landfill will instead be diverted and used as feedstock. The landfill won’t provide enough waste for the Blairstown facility so Fiberight is in discussion with other cities, like Iowa City, to source their waste.

In December 2013, Iowa City said it was looking for permission to start negotiations with Fiberight to set up MSW-to-ethanol production, much in the way Marion has already done. The City held an RFP earlier this year and Fiberight was the only company to respond. The company says it can reduce the amount of waste going into the landfill by 80%.

In August 2013, Marion, IA approved a $20M solid waste to compressed biogas facility operated by Fiberight. The company, which was backed by a $25M loan guarantee from the USDA, a $2.9M grant from the Iowa Power Fund, and $20M in private investment, is scaling up from its currently operating demonstration facility in Virginia. The plant will sort up to 400 tons of garbage each day, and leftover waste will be sent to a shuttered ethanol plant in Blairstown, which Fiberight has recently purchased and is in the process of upgrading. The Iowa plant must be open and running by January 1, 2015, or else Marion may void the agreement.

In May 2010, Fiberight announced that it had commenced production at the first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant to enzymatic conversion technology and industrial / municipal solid waste (MSW) as feedstock.  Fiberight recently completed its initial stage development by converting a former first generation corn ethanol plant in Blairstown, Iowa to cellulosic biofuel production which incorporates specialized waste treatment and biochemical technologies to efficiently turn MSW into biofuel


Major Milestone Goals 

Completion of commercial production capacity of first commercial plant.

Business Model


Competitive Edge

High Waste Feedstock Availability at Low Cost – Fiberight takes advantage of low cost and abundant high-energy sources of municipal solid waste (MSW) feedstock from existing supply infrastructure, by locating proximate to waste hauler and collection sites.

Energy / Environmental Impact Gains – Fiberight also sequesters plastic/hydrocarbon fractions for production of cogeneration plant energy using a low emissions process, resulting in its biorefinery plants having the added benefit of being a net energy producer.

Efficient Organic Conversion – Fiberight’s targeted organic processes, pretreatment methods and novel enzyme recycling systems have been perfected, using proprietary technology and IP in a low temperature and a closed-loop water system, to manage costs.

Low CAPEX – Fiberight utilizes an efficient “mini-mill” plant facility, with 50,000 square foot operations, that can be constructed at much lower initial capital investment due to the smaller scale, closed-loop system and streamlined permitting process.

Company Website

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Category: 5-Minute Guide

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