The latest company to get into the cellulosic biofuels race is Alltech of Lexington, Kentucky. The company was awarded a grant last week by the US Department of Energy to begin work on a $70 million plant in Springfield, Ky.
The head of that project is Dr. Mark Lyons, son of Alltech president Dr. Pearse Lyons. This young man has inherited the business and scientific intelligence of his father and already has experience that will help him make this plant a reality in short order, having been in charge of international projects for the company, including the largest yeast plant in the world located in Brazil.
Mark Lyons says the $30 million DOE grant will make the project much easier to accomplish. “This gives us the possibility to think much bigger than we would have been forced to,” he said in an interview. “And that means that the time frame to get where we want to will be that much shorter.”
The facility Alltech is planning will be a commercial cellulosic ethanol plant. “I think the fact that Alltech is positioned so strongly in the animal feed and the animal health business and that we have this background and knowledge of the ethanol business, we’re really in a unique position,” said Lyons. “We have a very definite plan, we’re very confident, and essentially this is an idea that we actually had 30 years ago.”
This week Alltech has been hosting an international symposium, appropriately titled for an Earth Day theme “The Greenest Generation,” which has focused on a variety of issues important to agriculture, the environment and the world. Some 1700 participants from all over the world have been attending.
“We have to take this challenge,” Lyons said with regard to the theme. “We want more energy globally, more food, and we have to do that with less impact on the environment.”
You can listen to an interview with Mark Lyons from the Alltech Symposium here: