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  • Writer's pictureRon Kotrba

Pennsylvania wood-to-diesel project receives $2 million state grant

Pennsylvania State Sen. Michele Brooks announced in late December that Crawford Advanced Materials LLC, a company “comprised of both Homeland Fuels Company and Crawford Renewable Energy,” was awarded $2 million in Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program funds—a grant program in the Commonwealth—to develop what Brooks’ office called a “biodiesel” facility within the Keystone Regional Industrial Park in Greenwood Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania.

Biobased Diesel Daily reached out to Crawford Advanced Materials and learned the company is not developing a biodiesel (fatty acid methyl ester) project per se, but rather a biorefinery to convert woodchips into a diesel fuel alternative using pyrolysis technology.

The company’s website says Proton Power Inc. is supplying the pyrolysis process technology. In addition to manufacturing diesel fuel from the woodchips, biochar will be a coproduct from the process, which itself can be used as a soil amendment or converted to a material known as “graphene.”

Crawford Advanced Materials describes graphene as “undoubtedly the most promising material of our time.” It says the material is “remarkably stronger than steel but also features excellent conductivity for heat and electricity and shows a remarkable ability to withstand high temperature and pressure, making it an outstanding material for use as a lightweight, strengthening additive to almost every construction material. Despite all these strong properties, the material is practically so thin (only one atom thick) that it is basically transparent to the naked eye.”

The company’s website also shows it has four similar projects across the country, with the one in western Pennsylvania for which it received the $2 million grant scaled at 7 MMgy.

The grant money will be used for construction of site access driveways and parking areas, water and sanitary sewer infrastructure, storm water management facilities, a testing lab and administration building, as well as site landscaping and outdoor lighting.

“I want to thank the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County for their strong application for this innovative project, which has the ability to spur future job growth in our area,” Brooks said. “We are very fortunate to have such an advanced collaboration in our area, and I’m thankful for the funding they have been awarded.”

The company says the project will employ approximately 90 people in the construction trades and dozens more in plant operations.

“Site construction has commenced as weather has allowed,” the company said in a statement sent to Biobased Diesel Daily. “We expect a return to full construction and engineering activities as spring weather permits in 2021.” Crawford Advanced Materials thanked staff at the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County, the county’s lead economic development agency, along with Brooks and State Rep. Parke Wentling.

EPACC will administer and monitor deployment of the grant as construction continues.



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