Biomass Plant to Convert Rice Straw to Ethanol

Colusa Biomass Energy, a biomass-to-ethanol company, has engaged technical assistance consultants for a production plant in the Sacramento Valley that will convert rice straw to chemical products and ethanol.

The annual California planting for rice production is approximately 600,000 acres. Each acre of rice produces about 2 1/4 tons of rice straw. Of the 1.35 million tons of California rice straw produced approximately 3 to 4 percent is used for commercial applications. Legislation now prohibits farmers from burning the waste rice straw. According the company, the balance is reintroduced to the soil or the fields are flooded a second time–not only an extra expense to the farmer but a detriment to water-starved California. Chief Science Officer James Lucas pointed out that the plant would offer farmers extra revenue while providing California with a source for renewable alternative fuel. In addition to creating many jobs for Colusa County’s unemployment rate of more than 25 percent, Chief Science Officer James Lucas said “the efficient and economical production of valuable commodities from rice straw will help solve the air and solid waste issues associated with the disposal of over a million tons per year of rice straw.” Colusa Biomass Energy, founded in Nevada in 2001, holds US patents to make ethanol from waste biomass. Its preferred biomass is waste rice straw from the Sacramento Valley, which produces about 13 percent of America’s rice production.
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