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U.S. Guarantees Mossi & Ghisolfi Loan to Turn Grass Into Fuel

A unit of the Italian chemical company Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi received a loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build a cellulosic ethanol refinery in North Carolina.

USDA approved an 80 percent guarantee on a $99 million loan for Chemtex International, according to a statement today. The facility in Sampson County will convert 600,000 tons of non-food grasses into as much as 20 million gallons (76 million liters) of ethanol a year.

President Barack Obama is promoting wider use of renewable energy sources, including biofuels, as part of an effort to make the U.S. energy independent. USDA has funded eight other refineries that convert agricultural waste, wood, municipal garbage and algae into fuel.

“At USDA, we are focused on the production of renewable energy from a wide variety of non-food sources, including energy grasses,” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, said in the statement.

Chemtex, based in Wilmington, North Carolina, received $3.9 million from the USDA in June to grow more than 4,000 acres of miscanthus and switchgrass. Those feedstocks will be combined with enzymes from Bagsvaerd, Denmark-based Novozymes A/S to produce fuel, Paige Donnelly, a Novozymes spokeswoman, said in an e-mail today.

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