ZeaChem lands $232M loan guarantee for Boardman refinery

ZeaChem announced Thursday a $232 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help finance a much larger refinery the company plans to build in Boardman.

ZeaChem announced Thursday a $232 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help finance a much larger refinery the company plans to build in Boardman.

ZeaChem Inc. demonstrated its sustained ability to get federal support for its biorefinery business by announcing Thursday a $232.5 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to finance construction of its second, much-larger facility in Boardman to be used to process cellulosic fuels and chemicals.

The 25-million-gallon-per-year facility has been discussed by the company for several months. It would be built adjacent to Colorado-based ZeaChem's demonstration-sized biorefinery which just started up operations this month. That facility has a 250,000-gallon-per-year capacity.

The loan guarantee is conditional, dependent on the successful operation of ZeaChem's demonstration plant, which Jim Imbler, CEO of ZeaChem, said was delivered on time and under budget.

The conditional guarantee will allow the company to secure financing for the larger, commercial-scale facility, Imbler said. He expects to start building the plant in 2013 and have it operational by 2014.

ZeaChem has contracted with GreenWood Resources for fast-growing poplar trees that will provide the woody biomass that ZeaChem will use, along with agricultural waste, to produce sustainable fuels and green chemical building blocks.

ZeaChem's efforts in Boardman have been well-funded by the federal government. The company landed $12 million of a $40 million USDA grant awarded for biofuels research in September. The plant has also benefited from stimulus funding and, from the state of Oregon, a Business Energy Tax Credit benefit.

ZeaChem’s commercial facility in the Port of Morrow near Boardman, the company's first large-scale facility, will create 188 construction jobs and 65 full-time operations jobs, company officials said. They also estimate an additional 242 indirect jobs for construction and full-time operations.

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@SustainableBzOR | christinawilliams@bizjournals.com | 503.219.3438

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