KINGMAN, Ariz. (AP) — Dave Williamson is looking at ways to help the environment while he makes and markets beer and liquor through his Flagstaff, Ariz., businesses — Mogollon Brewing Co. and Arizona High Spirits Distillery.
He and his wife, Diane, have started Earth Friendly Fuels. It will be an ethanol plant that eventually employs around 60 people and produces up to 59 million gallons of ethanol annually.
Ethanol is added as a supplement to fuel, and Williamson said every gallon produced in the United States would mean one less gallon made through foreign oil.
''Ethanol burns 24 to 38 percent cleaner as far as carbon dioxide emissions, too,'' he said.
The couple submitted an application to lease Camp Navajo near Flagstaff in April 2006 for a three-phase project. Phase 1 would be the startup of a 12½ megawatt biomass power plant. Phase 2 would be an ethanol plant producing 50 million gallons annually. Phase 3 would expand his brewery and distillery.
''Camp Navajo has been underutilized since World War II,'' Williamson said. “It has transportation infrastructure in place for an ethanol plant already.”
The existing infrastructure includes seven railroad spurs, its own fire department, a water treatment plant, access to Interstate 40 and its own security on a military base.
An enhanced-use lease agreement has opened up 815 acres of land to individuals engaged in eco-industrial businesses.
The Williamsons are moving toward getting an ethanol plant in operation.
The Science Channel recently sent a film crew to Northern Arizona University to do a story on a proposal he made to Northern Arizona University President John Haeger, Williamson said.
''NAU has come up with a way to combine carbon dioxide and hydrogen to make methanol, which is almost like ethanol,'' Williamson said.
''I contacted the president and said, 'You're doing research on carbon dioxide, which is something I make as a byproduct that I can capture and give to you. You can make methanol by using ethanol and improve production of ethanol by 60 percent in the process.' ''
Williamson's distillery has a miniature version of an ethanol plant that can provide the opportunity to apply NAU research that would become beneficial to the country if applied to the existing ethanol industry.
Earth Friendly Fuels proposes building a cellulosic ethanol plant that would produce ethanol from ponderosa pine forest waste and other biomass waste streams.
That would be contingent on a proposed oriented strand board (OSB) plant near Winslow processing trees 16 inches or smaller in diameter into a plywood-like product used in construction with waste going toward powering the ethanol plant.
''We have to do something to thin our ponderosa pine forests before they burn down,'' Williamson said.
''Research tells us an acre normally supports about 80 trees if there is no human interference. Our forests now have 600 to 800 trees per acre.''
The ''explosion'' in trees is partially due to cattle overgrazing pastureland early in the 20th century. The lack of grass prevented ground fires that regenerated the soil while keeping tree numbers in check.
It also has been normal for the last 60 years to suppress forest fires that further eliminate trees, Williamson said.
Williamson conducted training Monday at the Dambar & Steakhouse for employees, who dispense his American vodka and prickly pear-flavored American vodka to customers. The product is 70 proof, meaning it contains 35 percent alcohol.
He is using an old ethanol industry saying — ''Drink the best and drive the rest'' — in his campaign to get a production facility going.
American vodka goes through distilling three times and filtering six times before one final distilling, Williamson said. The results are the purest, cleanest vodka in the world.
Employees seemed to like the taste of American vodka in a test against Grey Goose, one of the top brands made by a company with a multimillion-dollar advertising budget.
American vodka is sold by the bottle locally at Bashas and Safeway supermarkets, and as drinks ordered at Cerbat Lanes and Chili's restaurants, he said.