The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced a $99 million partnership with Chemtex to support construction of a new advanced biofuels plant in the United States. The plant is expected to be located in Sampson County, North Carolina and produce 20 million gallons per year from energy crops. Construction is targeted to begin in late 2012.

“Novozymes is excited to partner with Chemtex to convert energy crops into cellulosic ethanol in North Carolina. It is a great step forward for the U.S. biofuels industry and an endorsement of the technologies Chemtex and Novozymes have each developed. I am confident our collaboration will become a benchmark for the advanced biofuels industry in the U.S.,” said Peder Holk Nielsen, Executive Vice President, Novozymes.

“Advanced biofuels are commercializing because the Renewable Fuel Standard is working. With public and private investment, we are adding to America’s mix of domestic energy, reducing prices for consumers and freeing us from our dependence on oil,” said Adam Monroe, President of Novozymes North America.

Slated to open in 2014, the plant will employ approximately 65 employees and indirectly generate 250 more jobs in the community, not including construction jobs. The feedstock will be grown on low productivity/marginal land that is in part being utilized as “spray fields” for the hog farming industry.

Chemtex will use Beta Renewables’ PROESA® technology to produce cost-competitive ethanol using energy grasses and agricultural waste as its feedstock.  PROESA is the same technology that will be used at the world’s first commercial-scale cellulosic biofuel ethanol plant in Crescentino, Italy, expected to start operations in the fall of 2012, and also in a series of plants to be built by GraalBio in Brazil. Novozymes is the enzyme partner for the three announced ethanol plants running on PROESA (Crescentino, GraalBio and Chemtex.) 

“Realizing a commercial scale cellulosic ethanol plant in the United States and proving that it can produce cost competitive sustainable ethanol is an important milestone in the commercialization process of advanced biofuels,” said Guido Ghisolfi, President of The Chemtex Group. “Our collaboration with Novozymes is an important aspect of this project and further validates what can be achieved when industry-leading players and technologies join forces. We believe that the plant can become a model for future cellulosic ethanol production in America, providing jobs and benefitting local economies and U.S. energy security.”

Support for advanced biofuels growing
The support announced today follows a commitment of $3.9 million from USDA’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) to Chemtex in June 2012.  Funds from the BCAP award helped establish and grow more than 4,000 acres of feedstock, such as switchgrass and miscanthus, used to make cellulosic ethanol.

Almost two-thirds of future Renewable Fuel Standard volumes are allocated for advanced biofuels like the cellulosic ethanol from Chemtex. To date, the U.S. biofuels industry has created 400,000 jobs.  Advanced biofuels coming online are expected to create an additional 800,000 by 2022.

As part of the Biofuels Leadership Coalition, Novozymes and its partners have invested one billion dollars in bringing advanced biofuels technologies to market and creating associated jobs.

Novozymes a key partner
Cellulosic ethanol is produced from biomass such as wheat straw, corn stover, sugarcane bagasse, municipal waste, or energy crops, which is first broken down into a pulp. Enzymes are then added, turning the pulp into sugar which is fermented into ethanol. Novozymes is the world’s leading provider of enzymes to the biofuels industry.