Funding secured for biorefinery in Ontonagon

ONTONAGON, Mich. (WLUC) - SynSel Energy, Inc. of Elmhurst, IL has secured the funding for a state-of-the-art biorefinery in Ontonagon. SynSel is partnering with a US-based financier and Lost Bowl Development, LLC of Ontonagon to construct the $300 Million biorefinery. The plant will use proven, environmentally­ responsible technology to produce clean second-generation biofuels from the area's abundant pulp and waste wood.

The plant will be located on the site of the former Smurfit-Stone Paper Mill in Ontonagon, owned by Lost Bowl Development, LLC. At full capacity, the plant will use approximately the same volume of wood feedstock as the former paper mill to produce 90,000 gallons per day of synthetic transportation fuels. The engineering work is expected to begin in early summer and will take 14 months. Construction of the plant is expected to take 2 years followed by several months of commissioning.

Pat Tucker, President of Lost Bowl Development said, "This is a great opportunity for Ontonagon. In the short run, there will be hundreds of local construction jobs to build the biofuels plant for the next 3.5 years. Once the plant is commissioned, the plant will operate 24/7 and is estimated to generate 100 to 150 full-time jobs across four shifts. The SynSel biorefinery is a huge step in reversing the unemployment trends in Ontonagon and the Upper Peninsula, in general."

"The jobs at the SynSel biorefinery are stable, career jobs that will anchor families and grow the Ontonagon economy. This will also provide a needed boost to the struggling local forestry industry that will provide wood feedstock for the plant. Local hotels, restaurants, retailers, medical centers, and other businesses will also see increased sales. This is a wonderful win for the Upper Peninsula."

SynSel CEO, Tim Tawoda said, "There are over 600 commercial-sized biorefineries in the U.S., but only two of these plants provide the type of high quality and high demand biofuel that will be produced by the Ontonagon plant. SynSel biofuels do not require blending with petroleum-based fuels like biodiesel or ethanol, and these fuels are able to directly displace petroleum-based fuels without engine modification or degradation in performance. A regional academic institution also calculated that similar biofueis will reduce "well-to-wheel" greenhouse gases by more than 90 percent compared to traditional fossil fuels."

"There is bipartisan support in Washington and Lansing for this initiative since it creates jobs, helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and strengthens our country's energy security. The Ontonagon County EDC and various elected state officials have expressed support to enhance the supporting infrastructure. Assistance is needed to bring back rail access to the plant, facilitate a deep-water port, and to lengthen the airport runway. We are eager to engage with state, county, and community leaders and stakeholders to produce American-made, environmentally-responsible transportation fuels in Ontonagon," Tawoda concluded.

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