Virdia gets $100 million to start cellulose ethanol plant

Mar 09, 2012 by Bob Yirka report
Wood to sugar hydrolysis units in Virdia's pilot plant in Danville, VA.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Despite calls for finding alternatives to using corn to make biofuel, the United States currently has no such commercial biomass-to-sugar processing plants able to do so. That may soon change as Virdia has announced that it has received $100 million in public and private financing to build a plant in Mississippi that will convert wood chips into cellulosic sugar which it will sell to companies that make biofuels and other chemical products.

Virdia, which has just changed its name from HCL CleanTech Inc., says that in addition to a $75 million dollar loan and $155 million in from the state of Mississippi, it has also received from three companies, Tamar Ventures Khosla Ventures and Burril & Company, totaling $20 million. The plant to be built in an as yet unknown location in Mississippi is expected to cost close to $350 million, though estimates vary, depending on how close it can be tied to another existing facility.

Virdia, originally from Israel, has been refining a chemical process in a pilot plant near Virginia Tech (partly funded by $9 million in federal grant money) that it says is unique in the industry. It uses virtually the same process to break down the cellulose in , namely acid hydrolysis, as other endeavors, but instead of producing a salt based waste byproduct, the acid is recycled which brings down costs and makes a new plant far less harmful to the environment. In addition to sugar, the process also results in the production of lignin, pellets that can be sold as burning material for woodstoves or used in other chemical processes. The company says its proprietary process (CASE) is 95 to 97 percent efficient, roughly ten percent better than other processes currently in use.

Though the first plant would be relatively small, Virdia says if successful, the company plans to build another as soon as possible. Also as part of the announcement, the company said that it is also looking into ways other such as switch grass might be integrated into the process.

Using to make biofuels, if ramped up to produce sufficient quantities, could eventually replace as the mainstream biofuel component; a move the world would surely welcome as food prices have risen steadily due to the increased use of corn to make fuel instead of food.

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User comments : 8

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James_Mooney
4.3 / 5 (3) Mar 09, 2012
There is something obscene about growing corn to make auto fuel when there is still so much starvation in the world.
diego
Mar 09, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (4) Mar 09, 2012
"(PhysOrg.com) -- Despite calls for finding alternatives to using corn to make biofuel, the United States currently has no such commercial biomass-to-sugar processing plants able to do so."

-I wonder if bitchyboy knew this before he planted all that sweet sorghum. But hey they're building one in Mississippi:

"That may soon change as Virdia has announced that it has received $100 million in public and private financing to build a plant in Mississippi that will convert wood chips into cellulosic sugar"

-Aw too bad ritchie they will only be taking wood chips. Better keep that still fired up. So Ritchie where WERE you going to convert that 40 acres of sweet sorghum? Huh?
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (2) Mar 10, 2012
Feeding American cars is more important than feeding people.

The second and third world nations should remember that as America continues on it's rapid economic collapse.

"There is something obscene about growing corn to make auto fuel" - James
yep
3 / 5 (2) Mar 10, 2012
Corn Stover 28% cellulose
Soft Pine 44% cellulose
Hemp 65% cellulose
manifespo
4 / 5 (1) Mar 10, 2012
But cannabisativa is ILLEGAL!!! Ohh noooz!
kaasinees
5 / 5 (2) Mar 10, 2012
Hemp has many purposes like making recyclable car parts, furniture etc.. I am clueless as to why they ban it. Why don't they ban glue cause kids can get addicted to sniffing it? Might as well ban eating cause someone get high on burning poop.
Callippo
1 / 5 (3) Mar 10, 2012
There is something obscene about growing corn to make auto fuel when there is still so much starvation in the world.
It just makes the jobs for thousands of people, who could be replaced with fossil fuel technology and released for more effective tasks, like the colonization of outer cosmic space. The biofuels are very down to earth strategy. Biofuels are rather diluted sources of energy and the soil will become depleted from minerals and humus after few harvests. The biofuels production contributes significantly to reduction of tropical forests and spreading of deserts, thus making worse just the consequences of global warming, which is trying to fight against. It's a desperate attempt of energetic lobby to delay the implementation of cold fusion, which would make their jobs unsubstantial.
Callippo
1 / 5 (2) Mar 10, 2012
The concept of biofuels is seemingly attractive, because the amount of solar energy exceeds two orders of the consumption of human civilization - so why not to use it in the same way, like the plants? The problem is, this sparse way of energy concentration is incredible resources and materials hungry. If we would use it, we would covered the world with GMO crops and fermenters, pipes for biogas and we wouldn't allow any free place for actual independent life. We would live essentially like the plants, which do consume whole their life environment just for their simple reproduction. So we shouldn't exist at the Earth just for energy production, conversion, transport and storage, the people should spend their lives with more attractive and qualified tasks. Instead of it, we should make the energetics as tiny and unobtrusive as possible. The energetic sources and engines should be the smallest parts of devices and technologies.