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Chatham Economic Development Corporation wins grant for biodiesel production

Posted Friday, April 10, 2009

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Pittsboro, NC - The Chatham County Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) announced in March that it had received a one-year grant of $197,000 from the North Carolina Biofuels Center to conduct enzymatic biodiesel production, according to Dianne Reid, president of the CEDC.

While the CEDC will administer the grant, project work will be delivered by Piedmont Biofuels Industrial, a local biodiesel producer, in partnership with Novozymes, a global leader in biotechnlogy innovation and the world’s largest manufacturer of enzymes.

Reid was delighted with the award, saying, “The project will promote the development of green jobs in Chatham County and help further the county’s aim to be a leader in renewable energy technology.”
Chatham County is already a leader in biodiesel research. Piedmont Biofuels already had started building a second lab on its Pittsboro Campus to accommodate its current research and analysis needs.
According to Reid, the idea for the grant project originated in Seattle, where Piedmont Biofuel’s Rachel Burton and Per Munk Nielsen from Novozymes delivered scientific presentations at an American Oil Chemists Society meeting.

Burton, a founder of Piedmont Biofuels, currently spearheads its research and analytics efforts. “I’m excited about working with Novozymes,” Burton said.

Greg Austic from Piedmont Biofuel’s managed the grant application and will have a lead role in the project. “We hope to integrate this research into the biodiesel production systems that we currently market,” said Austic.
Novozymes is a recognized leader in providing enzymes for fuel ethanol manufacturing, which has played a major role in steadily decreasing the cost per gallon of enzymatic production. However, enzymatic production has not yet been applied to biodiesel, so this research partnership is critical, said Austic.
Kurt Creamer, who is responsible for North American connectivity for Novozymes said of the award, “We’ve been watching Piedmont Biofuels for some time, and we think they are well positioned to help us get enzymatic biodiesel processing out of the lab and into the marketplace.”
Piedmont Biodiesel’s expertise lies in the development of small-scale biodiesel processing plants, which will be required in the development and initial phase of using enzymes to produce biodiesel.

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