Xethanol Corp announced Wednesday that it has organized BlueRidgeXethanol to spearhead Xethanol’s expansion into the Carolinas. BlueRidge has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire its first production plant.
The facility, located in Spring Hope, N.C., is a former medium-density fiberboard factory. The existing infrastructure of the plant can be readily converted to production of ethanol. It will be re-engineered to support a 35 million gallons per year plant. The company, Carolina Fiberboard, will become a wholly owned subsidiary of BlueRidge and change its name to Spring Hope BioFuels, LLC. It is believed that this plant may become the first commercial-scale cellulose ethanol plant to come on line in the U.S.
The production facility consists of 200,000 square feet of factory building, located on a 212 acre site. Six months after retrofitting, the plant is expected to reach production levels of 5 million gallons per year and reach full capacity quickly. The primary feedstock of local hardwood chips and wood waste has already been established and other lower cost feedstocks will eventually be integrated into the feedstock mix.
Xethanol plans to deploy established forest products processing technologies, leveraging the plant’s existing pulp digesters that are fed by a large scale, biomass pre-processing and preparation module that is in working order. Dilute acid hydrolysis technology will be used to convert the cellulose to fermentable sugars. Enzymatic hydrolysis will progressively be introduced as it becomes economically feasible.