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Waste News

FIRM STARTS BIOMASS CONVERSION RESEARCH

A New York-based alternative fuels company has struck a research and development deal with the Tennessee Valley Authority to help turn paper and wood waste into fuel and chemicals.

"We are a private company developing and commercializing technology for alternative motor fuel and chemicals mostly made from biomass feedstock," said Merrick G. Andlinger, President and CEO at Pure Energy Corp., of New York.

"It's the waste element that provides the economics. It's trying to take something that has a low value and make high-value products from it." Andlinger said. His company and the TVA's Environmental Research Center in Muscle Shoals, Ala., have a five-year agreement to conduct testing aimed at creating a conversion system to produce fuel and chemicals.

Pure Energy is paying TVA researchers to perform the work, but the company did not disclose the terms of the agreement. "We hope to validate different production pathways to some of the chemical products that we need, both for our fuel and otherwise" Andlinger said. TVA researchers have been working in the biomass conversion field since the late 1970's, said Jacqueline D. Broder, a TVA project manager who will work on the Pure Energy project.

The center only accepts projects having unique characteristics compared to previous work, Broder said. "Everybody who has come to our door has wanted something different," she said.

"What we're doing with Pure Energy is unique for Pure Energy. But it's in the biomass field, which is what we're good at," Broder said. Once funded with public money, the research center now relies on agreements with the private sector to continue operating, Broder said.

Because so many variables exist regarding the upcoming research, Broder said she could not estimate how many TVA researchers would be working for Pure Energy or how much the work will cost at this point. Pure Energy is looking to advance the use of its alternative fuel chiefly created from cellulose fiber taken from a variety of sources, including wood waste and paper, virgin paper and agricultural waste. "The sources of feedstock that we're interested in are broad," Andlinger said.

Pure Energy's work with the TVA will complement a pilot project Pure Energy already has with Arkenol Inc., of Mission Viejo, California. That effort could be running by this winter, he said. "There are different ways to skin the cat," Andlinger said.

Reprinted with permissions by Crain Communications Inc., Waste News, October 13, 1997.

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