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Event Details

DOE Ethanol Workshop Series


May 22, 2001
8:30 am to 3:00 pm

WestCoast Cape Fox Lodge
800 Venetia Way
Ketchikan, Alaska

Update on Alaska Ethanol Project
November 2001
Provided by Russell Dick, Sealaska

The ethanol project is on a two-year schedule to confirm the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's wood-to-ethanol conversion technology, and to develop detailed design engineering and cost estimates to secure engineering, procurement, and construction contracts for the Start-Up Ethanol Facility. All of this information is required to first prove the feasibility of the technology, and second, to provide engineering and technical guarantees necessary to secure any financing for the project.

Currently, samples of feedstock from the Gateway facility in Ketchikan, Alaska and other local sawmills are being tested to confirm the conversion yield of cellulose to ethanol, and to develop revised engineering cost estimates from which preliminary proformas are being developed. These proformas continually test the feasibility of the project. Concurrent with those efforts, we are identifying and addressing the business development issues associated with the project.

- - -

Ethanol Workshop Summary
Ketchikan, Alaska

May 22, 2001 – Alaska … Ethanol from forest residues

“A discussion of issues and opportunities associated with using local wood 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.

Workshop Sponsored by:

Alaska Energy Authority
United States Department of Energy
USDA Forest Service

For program information:
Bioenergy Coordinator
Peter Crimp
Alaska Energy Authority
Phone: 907-269-4631
Fax: 907-269-4685
Email: pcrimp@aidea.org

If you would like to be notified about the US DOE Ethanol Workshop Series Workshops, please provide your contact information to Anne Wester:

Anne Wester
Conference Planning Assistant
BBI International
PO Box 1146
Salida, Colorado 81201
Phone: 719-539-0300
Fax: 719-539-0301

  8:00 AM - 9:00 AM     Registration and Continental Breakfast
  8:30 AM - 9:00 AM     Welcoming Remarks
Robert Poe, Jr. - Executive Director, Alaska Energy Authority / Alaska Industrial Development and Export AuthorityThe Honorable Bob Weinstein, Mayor, City of Ketchikan
  9:00 AM - 9:20 AM     Converting Biomass to Ethanol: A National Perspective
Gerson Santos-Leon - Office of Fuels Development, U.S. Department of Energy
  9:20 AM - 9:40 AM     State Policies for Managing Wood Waste
Glenn Miller - Solid Waste Program, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
  9:40 AM - 10:00 AM     Ethanol as a Fuel Oxygenate in Anchorage
Ron King - Air Quality Improvement Program, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
  10:00 AM - 10:30 AM     Refreshment Break
  10:30 AM - 10:50 AM     Grain and Wood-Based Technologies for Production of Ethanol
Robert Wooley - National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  10:50 AM - 11:10 AM     Markets for Other Products from Lignocellulosic Ethanol Production
James Kerstetter - Washington State University
  11:10 AM - 11:30 AM     Ethanol Production and Value-Added Forest Product Manufacturing
Rick Harris - Sealaska Corporation
  11:30 AM - 1:00 PM     Luncheon Guest Speaker: The Honorable Jack Shay, Mayor, Ketchikan Gateway Borough
  1:00 PM - 1:50 PM     Southeast Alaska Ethanol Plant Project Status and Results
Russell Dick - Sealaska Corporation

Fran Ferraro – Bateman Merrick Group

  1:50 PM - 2:00 PM     Break
  2:00 PM - 3:00 PM     Roundtable Discussion: Is a Biomass Ethanol Plant Good for Southeast Alaska?


Peter Crimp - Alaska Energy Authority

Paul McIntosh – USDA Forest Service


Sealaska Corporation

H & L Salvage

Alaska Forest Association

Prince of Wales Community Advisory Council

Southeast Alaska Conservation Council

  3:00 PM    Adjourn

About the Programs

Renewable Diesel Workshops:
NREL Goals: ..."to educate key public officials and the general public about biodiesel as a transportation fuel" and ..."to build state and local coalitions that would form the nuclei of a support group that would promote and eventually lead to local biodiesel production and use."

Ethanol Producers' Technical Workshops:
Perspectives from ethanol producers, production technology providers, and government researchers. Those in attendance were given the task of exploring the challenges and opportunities presented by combining cellulosic ethanol streams with existing grain streams.

US DOE Ethanol Workshop Series:
A series of one-day, state-level workshops to educate key public officials and the general public about ethanol as a transportation fuel.

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