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August 2001
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Alaska - May 22
Ethanol From Forest Residues

"A discussion of issues and opportunities associated with using local residues to make fuel grade ethanol in Southeast Alaska."

Sealaska Corporation, the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Alaska Energy Authority and Merrick & Company have been working together to solve a wood waste disposal problem in Southeast Alaska for the past four years. The US Department of Agriculture recently joined the project team. The "Southeast Alaska BioEnergy Project" had a coming out of sorts at the recent DOE Ethanol Workshop held May 22 in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Southeast Alaska is unlike the lower 48; there are few roads and there is little room for landfills. Wood residues from local sawmills and other wood manufacturing activities are difficult to dispose of. Several roads and a golf course have been constructed with hog fuel – a mixture of sawdust and bark. It became apparent that another outlet for the wood residues was needed. Burning of wood residues or building huge piles of bark and sawdust is not acceptable in the long run and is not good business.

To solve the problem, the wood-to-ethanol conversion process being developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado was selected as the most appropriate technology for Southeast Alaska. The NREL process converts cellulose and hemicellulose in the wood to various sugars in a two-stage dilute acid process. The acid is neutralized and the sugars fermented to ethanol. The ethanol is distilled, dehydrated and denatured to make fuel ethanol. The plan is to then ship the ethanol to Anchorage for use in gasoline to reduce carbon monoxide emissions. Anchorage currently imports all of its ethanol, estimated to be about 6 million gallons annually, from the Midwest.

The NREL process has several proprietary and unique features including a yeast strain that has been adapted to the wood derived sugar solution making detoxification of the solution ("hydrolysate") prior to fermentation unnecessary. A byproduct of the process is lignin, which will be used to fire a boiler for steam and power production.

The NREL process was selected for the project after a thorough review of technologies that appeared to meet the projects technical and schedule criteria. Other technologies under development may be suitable for the project but were judged to be too far from commercial readiness to meet the project’s needs.

Russell Dick of Sealaska Corporation and Fran Ferraro of Bateman-Merrick Group presented an overview of the project at the Ketchikan workshop. The proposed site for the cellulose-to-ethanol plant is the former Ketchikan Pulp Company site on Ward Cove. The pulp mill closed in 1997 resulting in the loss of 400 much-needed jobs in the area. The site retains much of the infrastructure needed for the ethanol plant.

The next steps for the project will lead to construction of a 2 million gallon per year demonstration facility. If the demonstration is successful, the Ketchikan ethanol facility will be expanded to the final commercial size to provide renewable ethanol to the Alaska market. Construction on the demonstration facility could begin in two years. When fully developed, the facility would generate up to 80 direct jobs and 120 indirect jobs.

Bioenergy Coordinator: Peter Crimp, Alaska Energy Authority, Ph: 907-269-4631, Fx: 907-269-4685, pcrimp@aidea.org.

EWS News is published by Bryan & Bryan Inc. (BBI), Cotopaxi, Colorado. Kathy Bryan, Ph: 719-942-4353, Email: kathy@bbiethanol.com, website: www.bbiethanol.com.

Please check this site often for the latest details, activities and agendas.

Copyright © 2001, BBI International

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