Mascoma awarded $20m contract

Mascoma Corporation, a developer of cellulosic biomass-to-ethanol development and production systems, announced Wednesday it has received a nearly $15 million award from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to build and operate a biomass-to-ethanol demonstration plant in the Empire State.

The $20 million plant, to be built in Rochester, N.Y., pending local permit approvals, will focus on demonstrating cellulose-to-ethanol technology and industrial processes.

International Paper Co., Cornell University, Clarkson University and the Natural Resources Defense Council also are part of a consortium supporting the project.

The facility is expected to operate using a number of New York State agricultural and/or forest products as biomass, including paper sludge, wood chips, switch grass and corn stover.

Genencor also plans to add capacity at its existing manufacturing facility to supply enzymes to the demonstration facility.

Following completion of design, engineering and site agreements and the required approval process, Mascoma estimates it will take 10-12 months to construct the pilot plant and begin operations.

“After decades of research and development around the world, cellulosic ethanol technology has reached a point where we are ready to demonstrate the commercial scale production of ethanol from biomass,” said Colin South, president of Mascoma.

Mascoma, founded in 2005 by Drs. Lee R. Lynd and Charles Wyman of Dartmouth College, has its corporate offices in Cambridge, Mass., and its R&D facility in Lebanon, N.H.

It has received financial backing of $39 million from a syndicate of venture capital firms led by founding investor Khosla Ventures. – JEFF FEINGOLD

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