Greentech Lead America: Mendel Biotechnology and BP
Biofuels announced their agreement to conduct a field trial of Mendel’s
PowerCane Miscanthus and evaluate its performance as feedstock for biofuel
production at BP Biofuels’ demonstration plant at Jennings, Louisiana.
“This agreement is an important next step in our
long-standing partnership with BP Biofuels. BP Biofuels will evaluate our new
PowerCane Miscanthus product in large field trials and test it at demonstration
scale in their biofuel conversion process,” said Don Panter, president,
Mendel BioEnergy Seeds, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MBI.
BP Biofuels will be planting a total of 100 acres of
PowerCane Miscanthus in early 2012 near BP’s Jennings facility and the first
biomass harvest from these fields is expected in 2013.
“As we move toward commercial production of
cellulosic biofuels and work to bring costs in line with conventional fuels,
agricultural advancements such as this will be a critical factor,” said
Sue Ellerbusch, president of BP Biofuels North America.
The company claims that PowerCane Miscanthus represents a
new chapter in biomass production. While the current publicly available
miscanthus varieties have outstanding agronomic and biomass performance
characteristics, they must be planted as a rhizome or live plug, which requires
additional investment and equipment for growers.
The PowerCane(TM) Miscanthus system will be significantly
more economical and efficient for growers, and will allow the industry to scale
up more quickly to meet renewable energy goals.
BP Biofuels operates a biofuels demonstration facility in
Jennings, La that is used to test new cellulosic technologies in the biofuels
production process. BP is also constructing a 20,000 acre energy grass farm in
Florida that will supply a 36 million gallon a year conversion facility.
Construction on the facility is expected to commence later this year.