MSU Part of First Michigan Center of Energy Excellence

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MSU is part of developing the state's first cellulosic ethanol plant. (view larger image)

Michigan State University is partnering with the Mascoma Corporation and Michigan Technological University in the state’s first Center of Energy Excellence, Gov. Granholm announced June 27.

Michigan State, Mascoma and Michigan Tech will be working with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and J.M. Longyear, a Marquette company that owns more than 65,000 acres of forestland in the Upper Peninsula, to develop the state’s first cellulosic ethanol plant. The plant will be in Chippewa County, south of Sault Ste. Marie.

“Long before the current run-up in petroleum prices, we declared Michigan’s intention to lead the nation in alternative energy production and help reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Granholm said. “Mascoma’s next-generation biomass-to-ethanol technologies are integral to wide-scale ethanol production, and this plant will put Michigan on the leading edge of technology that will create good-paying jobs for Michigan citizens.”

“At MSU, our research and development emphasis is on making renewable fuels from cellulose—trees, stems and stalks that aren’t food products,” said Steve Pueppke, director of the MAES and MSU Office of Biobased Technologies. “Michigan State is delighted to collaborate with our colleagues at Michigan Tech and Mascoma to help create a bioeconomy that is based on the state’s vast forest resources and develop a strong cellulosic biofuel industry.”

Michigan State will provide expertise in pretreatment technology for cellulosic ethanol production and assistance with renewable energy crops that can be used by the plant’s biorefinery. Michigan Tech will contribute its knowledge of sustainable forestry management practices and access to its automotive engineering labs for analysis of the biofuels produced.

Michigan is in a race with a firm in Georgia to open the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant. The Massachusetts-based Mascoma Corporation announced its decision to locate a plant in Michigan last July.

Mascoma chose Michigan because of its vast, sustainable forests and other non-food agricultural materials, as well as the research expertise available at Michigan State and Michigan Tech.


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