Genera breaks ground on biomass center

By Kris Bevill | July 15, 2010
July 30, 2010

Genera Energy LLC, owned by the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, broke ground on a first-of-its-kind biomass processing center July 29. The Biomass Innovation Park will be co-located with the Genera/DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol demonstration-scale facility near Vonore, Tenn., and will process all feedstocks used at the ethanol production plant.

Genera said the biomass center will encompass all of the necessary steps associated with using biomass feedstocks for ethanol production. "This facility will integrate biomass receiving, storage, separation, pre-processing and compaction," Genera President and CEO Kelly Tiller said. "It will initially process up to 50,000 tons of switchgrass but is designed to handle a wide range of energy crops and other biomass feedstocks. We will also have energy crops R&D demonstration plots onsite, as well as some demonstration scale novel conversion processes and technology."

The U.S. EPA said in its proposal to reduce the 2011 cellulosic biofuels volume mandate that it expects the Genera/DDCE facility to contribute 150,000 gallons of cellulosic ethanol to next year's total production volume. Genera said the first phase of construction for the biomass park is scheduled to be complete by the end of this year, which will allow it to be used to process switchgrass from the fall harvest for ethanol production. Genera has contracts for 6,000 acres of switchgrass located within 50 miles of the ethanol facility.

"The Biomass Innovation Park will be a unique and valuable asset in answering many of the questions farmers, biorefineries and the entire bioenergy industry are asking about sufficient, sustainable, scalable, cost-effective supply chains for energy crops," Tiller said.

The 21-acre biomass park site is large enough to allow for future expansions and will also serve as the site for a $5 million U.S. DOE switchgrass bulk-handling system, which will provide strategic partnership opportunities and serve as a template for regional biomass depots.