Cellulosic ethanol plant opens in Tenn.

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VONORE, Tenn. — Leaders from DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol, University of Tennessee, Genera Energy and Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen cut the ribbon on one of the world’s first cellulosic ethanol demonstration facilities, located in Vonore, Tenn.

The 74,000-square-foot plant has started producing ethanol and can produce ethanol from agricultural residue and bioenergy crops, including corncobs and switchgrass.

The University of Tennessee’s Biofuels Initiative established a bioenergy crop research and production basis for the industry and attracted second-generation biofuels leader DDCE to participate as an industrial partner in the development of the cellulosic ethanol biorefinery.

The University of Tennessee Biofuels Initiative (UTBI), with the support of Genera Energy, is establishing a supply chain for the development of fuel.

The facility in Vonore has capacity to produce 250,000 gallons of ethanol annually, though its focus is on optimizing technologies for large-scale production.

It represents an investment of more than $50 million, including funding from UTBI and DDCE.

The Vonore facility currently has a full-time staff of about 20.

Kelly Tiller, CEO of Genera Energy and director of external operations for the UT Office of Bioenergy Programs, said plans are for Tennessee farmers to place an additional 4,000 acres of switchgrass into production this spring, bringing the total production in the state to nearly 7,000 acres of the dedicated energy crop.

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