The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) recently awarded $1.5 million to Alfred State for the Biorefinery Development and Commercialization Center (BDCC). The prototype facility will help private and public partners leverage wood resources to create sustainable businesses using advanced manufacturing processes. The new grant increases the total funding raised to date for the research facility to $4.5 million.
“This is great news for Alfred State and the entire Southern Tier. This federal investment will help bring 15 new businesses and 125 good paying pay jobs to the Southern Tier and push this region’s economy into the future,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “The work done at BDCC will help create a ‘New Forest Economy’ by working with local partners and using the region’s abundant natural resources to spur long-term economic development. I will fight tooth and nail to make sure Alfred State continues to have the resources it needs to leverage the region’s workforce and grow private enterprise.”
“This award is a blueprint for new jobs, fresh opportunities, and a robust economic future for New York’s Southern Tier,” said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Earl F. Gohl. “It is part of a strategy to bring added capital into the region, and help the region prepare to globally compete in manufacturing, technology, construction, and a variety of other industry sectors.”
“Alfred State knows the ARC funding for the BDCC project will have a high impact by supporting equipment, training, and developing a network across the ARC region. Developing the proven Hot Water Extraction process in the BDCC will allow Alfred State to lead in biorefinery development and training in the region through the partners in the network,” said Craig R. Clark, vice president for economic development at Alfred State and executive director of the Allegany County Industrial Development Agency.
The BDCC is a prototype that will develop and commercialize the Hot Water Extraction (HWE) process that produces valuable chemical assets from wood, energy crops, and agricultural residuals. Through this technology, approximately 25 percent of the biomass is converted into value-added products such as advanced fuels and bio-based chemicals for plastics. The remaining 75 percent produces modified wood chips that have improved qualities for paper products, fuel pellets, and particleboard used in furnishings and construction.
Alfred State’s 18,000-square-foot biorefinery center is intended to spur additional investment, including business start-ups and full-scale biorefineries. Alfred State, the State University of New York (SUNY), universities from other ARC states, and private-sector bioenergy and biochemical companies will benefit from the research facility.
“This project has been in the works for about five years, but recent advances in funding have spurred our progress,” stated Clark. “We are conducting engineering studies right now regarding process and project costs related to implementation of the center.”
Through the BDCC, Alfred State will also provide training and technical services to both start-up companies and companies impacted by economic changes as they seek to enter new markets, diversify their manufacturing base, and adapt their workforce. The research facility is a collaboration between Alfred State and Syracuse-based Applied Biorefinery Sciences.
According to Clark, “The BDCC prototype facility is the first step to launch full-sized commercial plants that can cost about $200 million to build. The effect on a local economy like ours will be tremendous.”
The award to Alfred State was made through ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative. This congressionally funded multi-agency strategy brings federal resources directly to help communities and regions affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production.