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12-20-2006

Clarkson Researchers Will Work With State's First Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

Susan Powers, associate dean for Research & Graduate Studies at Clarkson's Coulter School of Engineering, was paying special attention today when Governor Pataki announced that $24 million was being awarded to two companies for the development and construction of the state's first cellulosic ethanol plants.

That's because Powers and other environmental researchers and students at Clarkson will participate in the project with Mascoma Corporation, one of the companies receiving the state funding. Mascoma, with the help of a $14 million grant from the governor, will build a 500,000-gallon-a-year cellulosic ethanol pilot facility in Greece, near Rochester.

In addition to Clarkson University, strategic partners with Mascoma on the project will be Cornell University and Genencor, a well-known supplier of enzymes for the conversion of starch to fermentable sugar in the production of fuel ethanol. The multi-feedstock plant will be commissioned initially on paper sludge. After an expected several month shakedown, the facility will add additional feedstocks, including, but not limited to, wood chips, switchgrass, willow and corn fiber. International Paper will supply the plant with paper sludge and Seaway Timber Harvesting, a Massena company, has been identified as a supplier for hardwood chips.

Catalyst Renewables Corporation, a renewable energy company out of Texas, was awarded $10 million to build a 130,000-gallon-a-year pilot biorefinery adjacent to their existing wood-to-energy plant in Lyonsdale.

Although technical and supply barriers still exist in the production of cellulose ethanol, the governor pointed out that the development of renewable homegrown fuels is key to reducing our dependence on imported energy, creating new high tech jobs and new markets for our agricultural and forest products. Clarkson and St. Lawrence County figure to be key to the state's renewable energy efforts.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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