Wisconsin funds biofuel research

By Susanne Retka Schill | September 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted Sept. 29, 2008 at 12:15 p.m. CST

The Wisconsin Energy Independence Fund is providing grants and loans of up to $7 million to companies conducting biofuel production research.

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle traveled around the state during the week of Sept. 22-26 to make announcements of the grants and loans. Two awards were announced Sept. 23 at the offices of American Science and Technology Corp. in Wausau, Wis.

Grand Meadow Energies LLC of Stratford, Wis., received a $265,000 state grant to optimize its process of producing ethanol from whey wastes, using the coproducts from that process to raise algae, and then using the algae and ethanol to produce biodiesel.

American Science and Technology received a $150,000 grant to research a biorefinery process that can be used in existing pulp and paper manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin. The company is researching the development of biofuels and industrial chemicals from woodchips, wood waste and switchgrass.

In Milwaukee on Sept. 25, Doyle announced two more award recipients. Middleton, Wis.-based C5-6 Technologies received $350,000 to help the company develop and commercialize new enzymes that will allow ethanol facilities to increase the ethanol yield from a bushel of corn.

Best Energies Inc. of Madison, Wis., received a total of $1 million, half in grants and half in loans, to develop and implement technology that will allow its facility to use corn oil from ethanol plants as a feedstock for biodiesel production. Best Energies operates a 10 MMgy biodiesel plant in Cashton, Wis., where it will install the equipment to demonstrate its technology on a commercial-scale, said Norm Balmer, president and chief executive of Best Energies. The process includes an esterfication step to convert the free fatty acids, as well as treating the contaminants found in crude corn oil.

"BEST and C5-6 are two great examples of Wisconsin companies that are on the cutting edge of biofuel technology development," said Joshua Morby, executive director of the Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance. "These grants are an important step in helping these companies bring new, exciting technologies to the market."