Biochemtex Opens Plant in North Carolina

biofuelsBiochemtex, a global technology provider of specialized biofuels and renewable chemicals, plans to invest approximately $200 million in its new cellulosic biofuels plant in Sampson County, North Carolina. According to the company, Carolina Cellulosic was established in 2013 to deliver the first cellulosic biorefinery for utilizing purpose-grown energy crops on a commercial scale in North America. Biochemtex states in its press release that “the plant will produce 20 million gallons per year of cellulosic biofuel from locally-grown energy crops, agricultural residues, and woody biomass.”

Colombian engineer Jorge Villegas Echeverri is the general manager for Carboetil Ingenieria. Echeverri is an expert on biofuels and renewable power and energy. He says, “This investment is an icon of the alcohol industry. It is the start of a new chapter, where modest results in reducing greenhouse gases– corn from alcohol- will be replaced by high reductions comparable with those of other biofuels- such as sugarcane alcohol and palm biodiesel.”

Arjuna Perera, a director of environmental engineering, shares his opinion. “That Biochemtex plans to invest as much as USD200 million in its new cellulosic biofuels plant in North Carolina indicates the firm’s high level of commitment to biofuels and renewable chemicals and its acceptance in the US,” says Perera. “However, my opinion is that such investments in this magnitude are rendered redundant, unless invested in the proper geographic local.”

Perera explains, “The temperate zone, with its seasonal limitations to agricultural activity, land availability and food vs. energy use issues- and other socio-economic factors such as cost of production and cost of living- would not be my geographic local of choice for any agriculture-based cellulosic biofuels investment. Additionally, cellulosic biofuels is a risky investment, given that the more straight forward and traditional investments in the likes of ethanol from maize and/or sugar cane, sugar-beets and other sugar or starch crops, and biodiesels from various oil crops, have proven to be economically strained, particularly sans subsidies and other concessions.”

What type of location does Perera consider best for such a project? “The tropics is the best geographic local for such projects and investments,” he says. “The tropics have the planet’s most productive land and solar incidence, year-round crop growth, and very low costs of production, that make an investment sound for economic and commercial reasons. Depending on what Biochemtex or such firms intend to manufacture, it is possible to engineer artificial forestry ecologies that optimize land use simultaneously and concurrently sans food vs. renewable energy issues, that can produce the requisite raw material in far greater volumes than possible in the temperate zones. As a consequence the USD200 million investment in the tropics can be stretched to yield far greater production output than otherwise, resulting in comparatively assured profits rather than risky profits- which is the case in the temperate zones.”

 Guido Ghisolfi, CEO and owner of Biochemtex,  announced that the company has “already engaged with regional farms and farmers for the supply of energy crops, and  sees great opportunity for growth and additional projects where regional infrastructure matches need.”


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