Kansas Gets First U.S. Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

HUGOTON, Kansas, August 28, 2007 (ENS) - A Spanish energy company has selected the town of Hugoton in southwestern Kansas as the site of the first U.S. plant to turn corn stalks, switchgrass and other woody biomass into ethanol.

Abengoa Bioenergy announced the $400 million ethanol project on Thursday. The facility will include an 85 million gallon per year corn-to-ethanol production plant as well as the 30 million gallon per year cellulosic ethanol plant.

The cellulosic ethanol plant will use 700 tons per day of corn stover, wheat straw, milo stubble, switchgrass, and other feedstocks.

Environmentalists view cellulose as a cleaner, more efficient source of fuel than corn ethanol and one that does not remove corn from the feed and food supply chain.

"This is great news for Hugoton, Stevens County, southwest Kansas and our entire state," said Congressman Jerry Moran. The facility is expected to bring more than 120 jobs to the area.

"We are very excited about the cellulosic ethanol plant being built here," said Hugoton Mayor Jack Rowden. "Abengoa has had a warm welcome from the residents, farmers and land owners in the area. This will be a big boost for the local economy in the near future and for a long time to come."

"A primary corporate goal for Abengoa in the last decade has been to establish a leadership position in biofuels technology and production capacity," said Javier Salgado, CEO of Abengoa Bioenergy. "This new facility allows us to reach a major technology milestone in our program."

"Until recently, producing ethanol from biomass feedstock, instead of corn and other grains, was costly and impractical," said Gerson Santos, Abengoa Bioenergy new technologies corporate director. "In the last few years, however, Abengoa scientists have made breakthroughs in biotechnology and introduced innovative processes to manufacturing operations. By using a variety of local biomass crops and crop residue, cellulosic ethanol can be produced in most regions of the country - making the ethanol production from biomass products even more practical."

The Hugoton project will be partly underwritten by a $76 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, DOE.

In February, the DOE awarded up to $385 million in grants to six companies, including Abengoa, to help develop the first cellulosic ethanol plants. Other plants are planned for Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho and California.

"These biorefineries will play a critical role in helping to bring cellulosic ethanol to market, and teaching us how we can produce it in a more cost effective manner," said Energy Secretary Bodman, awarding the grants. "Ultimately, success in producing inexpensive cellulosic ethanol could be a key to eliminating our nation's addiction to oil."

Abengoa Bioenergy has its headquarters in Sevilla, Spain. Its North American division, Abengoa Bioenergy Corp., is based in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield, Missouri.

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