A company that plans to convert trash into biomass fuel at a plant in eastern Iowa is receiving a $25-million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Craig Stuart-Paul, C.E.O. of Fiberight, says the nearly $60-million project involves converting a traditional corn-ethanol plant in Blairstown into a cellulosic biofuel operation.
Fiberight purchased the facility in 2009. “We decided not to really start the project until it was fully funded,” Stuart-Paul said. “One of the things you don’t want to do is get a building and run out of money half way through, so we needed a substantial loan such as this to really pull off a good quality project that ourselves and the state can be proud of.”
Stuart-Paul believes the Blairstown plant will be the first in the nation to convert residential waste into cellulosic ethanol. The plant will collect solid waste from the Benton County Landfill and from area businesses.
“We have worked in the past with International Paper Company in Cedar Rapids and we’re also working with some of the food companies in Cedar Rapids,” Stuart-Paul said. “We can convert waste, which is currently being incinerated, into valuable biofuel and biogas.”
The new plant could be operational as soon as this year or possibly early next year. Stuart-Paul said 16 people are currently employed at the plant and he estimates the project will create 38 more jobs.
When operational, the facility is expected to produce approximately 3.6 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year.