Environmental Protection

Commercial Cellulosic Ethanol Plant to Border Landfill

The County of Los Angeles, Department of Regional Planning has granted BlueFire Ethanol Fuels, Inc., of Irvine, Calif., a conditional-use permit for the construction of the nation's first commercial facility to convert biowaste into ethanol, according to a company press release.

The Los Angeles County Planning Commission approved the use permit for operation of the plant on 10 undeveloped acres near Lancaster, Calif., in the Antelope Valley. BlueFire plans to initiate commercial operation in late 2009.

"We are thrilled to receive this permit," said Arnold Klann, president and chief executive officer, "and we see this construction of our first cellulosic ethanol the United States plant as a catalyst for the advancement of cellulosic fuel production throughout our nation."

The new facility will use BlueFire's commercially-ready, patented and proven Concentrated Acid Hydrolysis Technology Process. This will allow the profitable conversion of cellulosic waste into as much as 3.2 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year. Derived from non-foodstock urban, forestry and agricultural residues, this form of ethanol is completely renewable and highly-economical.

BlueFire Ethanol selected the Lancaster location because an estimated 170 tons of biowaste material, including woodchips, grass cuttings and other organic waste, already passes by the property every day. The plant is designed to use reclaimed water and lignin, a byproduct of the production process, in order to produce its own electricity and steam.

"By locating biorefineries directly in the markets with the highest demand for ethanol, our technology can also help surrounding cities manage landfill waste, solving two problems for the price of one," added Klann.

As part of a strategy to control costs and accelerate production at the Lancaster facility, BlueFire Ethanol has already implemented production of pre-assembled modules that will comprise the Lancaster biorefinery.

BlueFire Ethanol is also one of six ethanol companies awarded $40 million funding from the U.S. Department of Energy for its construction of a larger ethanol production facility using cellulosic wastes diverted from landfills in Southern California. The facility will produce approximately 17 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year from green waste, wood waste and other cellulosic urban wastes.

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