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Kentucky approves rural biorefinery

A Kentucky company has received incentives for a rural community biorefinery project integrating feed, food and fuel production.

The facility, estimated to cost approximately $40 million, will be located in Springfield, Ky., and is expected to employ 93 people when operating at full capacity.

Alltech's rural community biorefinery will be the first in the United States to use cellulose, such as switchgrass, corn cobs and corn stover, for conversion to ethanol and other value-added products.

“This project and technology could have far-reaching implications, not just for the state but for the country as a whole,” said Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech, which also expects to receive a Department of Energy grant in February 2008.

“This plant goes beyond a typical ethanol facility by utilizing Alltech's existing expertise in the area of solid state fermentation,” said Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher. “It will enable Alltech to take fiber left from corn after producing ethanol and convert it into a usable product.”

In addition to ethanol production, the biorefinery will have an impact on Kentucky's production agriculture by housing dairy and beef cattle to be branded under the Kentucky Proud label.

The facility will also have the capability to produce algae, a plant that needs little besides sunlight and carbon dioxide. Algae can theoretically produce 5,000 gallons of biofuel per acre per year, compared to 400 gallons per acre for corn. Additionally, algae can absorb up to 450 tons of carbon dioxide per acre when grown commercially.

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