Plans Underway for Michigan Commerical Scale Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

14 12 2011

New Hampshire based biofuels company, Mascoma Corporation, and Valero Energy Corporation, the nation’s largest oil refiner and frontrunner in ethanol production, have launched a joint venture to build an commercial-sized cellulosic ethanol plant in Michigan’s upper peninsula near Kinross. Within six months the team plans to break ground on the facility and launch by the end of 2013. They’re moving to Michigan after a successful launch of a pilot plant in Rome, NY, which produces cellulosic ethanol from a wide array of feedstocks, including: sugar cane bagasse, grasses, and corn stover.

$50 million in grants from the Department of Energy and the state will help this project get off the ground. Mascoma, cellulosic ethanol, Kinross, Michigan, ValeroThe two firms are excited to create American jobs and help tackle our nation’s energy challenges.

The reason why this new plant is ground-breaking is that while many producers are generating cellulosic-derived biofuels on a small-scale, no  plant exists yet in the states that can produce this product that is feasible at the commercial-scale. Mascoma touts their proprietary technology that can convert wood to ethanol utilizing genetically modified yeasts.

Fall’s here… almost! Plenty of attractions for young and old.

10 09 2011

So although this particular post may not cover renewable fuels directly, I would like to explore how pre-harvested corn (before it’s produced into an amazing, local fuel for our cars) can provide a wonderful fall attraction for families looking to spend time with their loved ones.

The official start of the 2011 Autumn season is on the September equinox, or September 23. This is one of only two days a year in which we experience almost exactly 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness (f you’re sitting on the equator, that is).

What better way to soak up this amazing weather than spending it outside with your kids or friends?

Insert Coleman’s Corn Maze (picture at right). They offer everything from a 17 acre corn maze, hayrides, farm animals to bonfires. They also provide U-pick pumpkins at the end of this month.

But if you don’t live anywhere near Coleman’s Corn Maze in Saline, Michigan, there are plenty of alternative corn mazes near you. Just google your state’s tourism website and search for corn mazes to find local farms.

Besides gooey, tart candy apples paired with savory kettle corn, what’s the best part about an activity like exploring a corn maze or picking apples on a family farm?

Quality time spent with the ones you love.

Michigan or Bust: How Ag Can Help Solve Detroit’s Woes

27 08 2011

They say there are two seasons here: construction…. And winter.

As I drove my car down highway 94 east towards my new home this morning, the transition to Michigan from Illinois didn’t seem too bad.

To pass the time, I tried to read everything down the interstate that I could. Passing cars, semis, billboards… you name it.

I stopped in the Welcome Center and picked up the Michigan Agricultural Tourism booklet (oh yeah, and to grab a state map and other free schwag).

Where does it mention anything about alternative fuels that are grown here in the heartland of the Midwest? Well, kinda. There is mention of how adding soy to your plate is a great way to support Michigan agriculture and your health. What about how soy can fuel our cars?

Apparently, there doesn’t seem to be a large focus on raising corn, either, for food or fuel. Berries (you name it, I think they got it here), at first glance in this booklet appear to be one of the staple crops.

Now, I am an avid berry eater. Do not get me wrong! They offer some of the greatest health benefits out of all fresh foods. You can’t say enough about antioxidants.

But… do blueberries have the potential to eliminate smog? Don’t think so. Can cherries power vehicles while reducing our dependence on foreign oil? Not likely.

Corn, while also a tasty summer snack on the grill, can also satisfy the preceding characteristics. Soy can, too.

It seems to me that folks in Detroit are hurting. Hurting for industry, hurting for a better housing market, hurting for job security. They need alternatives, now. They need cutting edge technology, fast. They need a proliferating industry that has the potential to put food on our families’ plates AND power a greener, cleaner tomorrow.

So Michigan, please tell me… why not add a little green industry to your fields?