Thursday, September 06, 2007

Hugoton, Kan., welcomes first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant

Late last month, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and other state officials, along with representatives of the transnational energy corporation Abengoa descended upon the small town of Hugoton. They had big news to announce for the town of less than 4,000: It would be the site of the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in the country. (Encarta Maps)

According to a story in The Garden City Telegram, the facility will use plant fiber or other biomass to produce renewable fuel and cover about 400 acres west of Hugoton, and should be completed by late 2010. Once operational, the biomass biorefinery could produce as much as 13 million gallons of ethanol annually "using 930 tons per day of cellulosic crop residue from plants, including switch grass, cornstalks, milo and wheat straw," The Telegram writes. The plant also will produce about 88 million gallons of ethanol annually from grain. The Telegram reports that the part of the funding for the plant will come from a $77 million Department of Energy grant to Abengoa as a result of President Bush's energy initiative.

The Telegram also explains that Hugoton was not at the top of Abengoa's list originally, but one of the town's residents, Walter Beesley, made contact with the company when he heard about the grant. Beesley, a local farmer, made a visit to another of the company's plants and helped spark interest in Hugoton as a natural site for the plant's 125 jobs and $5.5 million payroll. (Read more)

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