OptaFuel to Locate Headquarters and Build Pilot Plant in Southwest Virginia

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Tobacco Funds Lure Biotech Company

OptaFuel US, Inc., announced today the establishment of its headquarters in Abingdon, Virginia, and the company’s plans to build a pilot plant in southwest Virginia. OptaFuel’s pilot plant will scale-up and demonstrate the company’s technologies for transforming lignocellulosic feedstocks into fuels, lignin materials, and chemicals.

“The pilot plant will integrate two major technologies: (1) a pretreatment and delignification process that breaks down biomass and (2) a hydrolysis enzyme optimization technology to improve cellulose degradation into fermentable sugars,” according to Anthony Scime, OptaFuel’s CEO. “The first of those two technologies was invented at Virginia Tech and the second by OptaFuel’s parent company, Biomethodes SA, France. Both technologies are being commercialized by OptaFuel for the North American market.”

The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved more than $2.5 million for project activities in the first year of the three-year project. Biomethodes SA is providing additional first-year funds. Abingdon’s Clean Energy Research & Development Center worked to secure the project for southwest Virginia.

“This project is another great example that the Virginia Tobacco Region is an ideal location for energy technology companies to develop and implement technology,” stated the Honorable Joe Johnson, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from southwest Virginia. “This is what the Tobacco Commission’s energy R&D initiative is designed to achieve,” added the Honorable Terry Kilgore, Chairman of the Tobacco Commission and a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from southwest Virginia. “The support we received from the Tobacco Commission and the Clean Energy R&D Center was instrumental in making this project a reality and bringing OptaFuel to this region,” said Mr. Scime.

Initially focusing on woody biomass from timber operations in the region, the pilot plant will also experiment with other types of feedstock and is a stepping stone to a full-scale commercial facility in southwest Virginia. Over the next 12 months more than $5.5 million will be invested in the pilot plant project, with $25-$30 million to be devoted to the project over the next 3 years.

OptaFuel US, Inc. has the exclusive North Amercican commercialization rights to new technologies for the transformation of lignocellulosic feedstock into fuels, materials, and chemicals. OptaFuel will build and operate a Pilot Plant in southwest Virginia, and once the process is fully qualified, will build and operate a full-scale industrial bio-refinery plant in the region. Contact: Anthony Scime, CEO, anthony@optafuel.com, 276-601-1500.

Biomethodes SA is a French white biotech company located on the Genopole Campus in Evry, near Paris. The company is pioneering the development and commercialization of new technologies for the transformation of lignocellulosic feedstock into fuels, materials, and chemicals. The company’s technology successfully integrates two crucial steps: chemical pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis. The result is a patented process that offers significant improvements in processing conditions and operating cost compared to other available technologies. Biomethodes’ technology package will be exclusively developed in the North American market by its subsidiary OptaFuel US, Inc.
Contact: Gilles Amsallem, CEO, gilles.amsallem@biomethodes.com, +33 160 912 125.

The Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission is a 31-member body created by the 1999 General Assembly to promote economic growth and development in tobacco-dependent communities, using proceeds of the national tobacco settlement. For information on the Commission’s history, mission, funding programs and recent grant awards, visit our website at http://www.tic.virginia.gov or call toll free 877-807-1086.

The Clean Energy Research & Development Center helps grow the southwest Virginia economy by identifying promising energy technology companies and helping them establish their operations in southwest Virginia. The Clean Energy Research & Development Center is supported by the Virginia Tobacco Region. It is based in Abingdon, VA. Contact: Ed Rogers, Director, erogers@swcenter.edu, 276-619-4396.


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