API ships first RIN-qualified cellulosic ethanol from their Alpena Biorefinery. Photo: Alex Wisniewski
Imagine powering a plane or car with fuels made from grasses, wood, or other plant residues. This type of fuel, called cellulosic ethanol, has the potential to be a major source of renewable fuel for America’s transportation fleets. The Energy Department’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) – in partnership with industry, national laboratories, academia and other key stakeholders – is turning this vision into a reality through research, development, and deployment of innovative technologies that make cellulosic ethanol more available and affordable.
A BETO-funded project recently reached a major milestone related to cellulosic ethanol production. Last month, American Process, Inc. (API), sold its first shipment of cellulosic ethanol with a Renewable Identification Number (RIN), which ensures the fuel meets Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirements. The milestone is one of several recent accomplishments by API including:
- Shipping its second commercial volume of ethanol from its Alpena, Michigan Biorefinery;
- Becoming one of the first companies in the world to produce commercial quantities of cellulosic ethanol from mixed forest residue;
BETO awarded API financial assistance through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to engineer, build, and operate the Alpena Biorefinery. The project has also been declared a Michigan Center of Energy Excellence and was awarded a $4 million grant from the State.  At full capacity, the pilot biorefinery is designed to produce about 894,000 gallons of cellulosic ethanol and 696,000 gallons of aqueous potassium acetate annually, using forest residue woodchips as a feedstock. The wood is sustainably harvested according to the RFS requirements for biomass.
API’s fully integrated biorefinery is one of many high-impact projects BETO supports aimed at developing and deploying commercially viable, high-performance biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower. Learn more about BETO’s ongoing work in the bioenergy industry.