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Cellulosic Ethanol Makes Its Debut

Ethanol made from straw blended with regular gasoline is being pumped from a local Shell gas station to gauge consumer reaction to the product that produces less harmful emissions.

Transport Minister John Baird participated in the formal launch of the product made at the Iogen Energy Corp. facility near the Ottawa airport.

Iogen produces 40,000 litres of ethanol a month from locally sourced straw using an advanced conversion process it developed. Shell is a partner in the plant as well as an Iogen proposal to turn an abandoned pulp mill in Prince Albert, Sask. into an ethanol plant.

“I am excited we are leading the pack in cellulosic ethanol production technology and, with this event, showing what is possible in the future,” Graeme Sweeney, Shell Executive vice-president future fuels and CO2 said at the official launch. “While it will be some time before general customers can buy this product at local service stations, we are working with governments to make large-scale production economic.”

Iogen CEO Brian Foody said with the volumes of ethanol the company has learned to produce at its Ottawa plant, “we’re confident about the future.”

Baird said the event showed that Canada’s commitment to developing low CO2 fuels “is starting to pay dividends for the environment, farmers, and consumers.”

Iogen has been producing cellulosic ethanol since 2004. It also develops, manufactures and markets enzymes used to modify and improve the processing of natural fibres within the textile, animal feed and pulp and paper industries.

Iogen has signed a letter of intent with the Saskatchewan government for the redevelopment of the former Domtar mill in Prince Albert into a cellulosic-based ethanol plant and bioenergy facility.

The company would use straw collected from farms in northern Saskatchewan to produce cellulosic ethanol and a power plant producing green electricity from forest and ethanol plant residues.

Iogen and Shell expect to make a final investment decision on the project after design and detailed feasibility work is completed, the companies said in a press release. If the project proceeds, the company would purchase mill assets from Domtar that are required for the new facility. The mill was closed in 2006.

Iogen will conduct public consultations with communities and First Nations in the area around the evaluation of the pulp mill site.

If the project goes ahead, the government would also commit to purchase green power produced from the plant and provide new growth tax incentives.

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