CleanTech Partners, Inc., wins $1.5 million U.S. Department of Energy Grant for the Development of Cellulosic Ethanol
MADISON, Wis. (November 28, 2006) – CleanTech Partners received notification from the U.S. Department of Energy that its proposal for producing cellulosic ethanol at paper mills by extracting the sugars from wood chips before they are pulped for paper making has been funded. The total project cost is nearly $2.7 million, of which the Department of Energy will contribute just over $1.5 million.
Masood Akhtar, CleanTech Partners’ President and principal investigator on this project, led the consortium that applied for the grant. Other participants included a major pulp and paper company with numerous locations in Wisconsin, the USDA Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin as well a number of other non-Wisconsin paper companies, universities and enzyme companies.
The research project has two major focuses:
• Use of enzymes, acids and other additives to aid extraction of hemicellulose sugars from wood chips prior to pulping for paper fiber, while maintaining the value and quality of the pulp and paper products.
• High-yield conversion of the complex mixture of sugars and their fermentation to ethanol, with recovery of marketable acetic acid as a co-product.
The resulting chips should be more easily pulped since diffusion of the pulping chemicals should be enhanced, and the energy needed to break the chips down into paper fibers should be reduced. If successful, a typical Kraft-process paper mill could produce 10-15 million gallons of ethanol each year using the new technology, without adversely affecting paper production or quality. Additional environmental and commercial benefits would come from the use of wood resources that have a well-developed and sustainable production and harvesting infrastructure.