The U.S. Department of Energy announced it will invest up to $114 million in four small-scale biorefinery projects, including one with Pacific Ethanol in Boardman, according to a DOE press release.

The DOE said it had included Pacific Ethanol in a matching award totaling $24.32 million to build the first cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant in the Northwest. The plant will produce ethanol from wheat straw, wood chips and corn stover - all produced within a 50-mile radius of the Boardman plant - and will be located at the site of Pacific Ethanol's existing corn-based ethanol facility in Boardman.

The facility will create approximately 2.7 million gallons of fuel per year and provide data needed to bring about a commercial-size biorefinery.

"Our goal is to aggressively push these technologies forward to get them out into the marketplace as quickly as possible, so they can have a real impact," DOE Secretary Samuel W. Bodman said.

The plant is expected to be operational in 2009 with expansion to commercial-scale production by 2012.

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