New Energy Blue, which has acquired exclusive rights to Inbicon bio-conversion technology throughout the Americas, is moving forward to construct a biomass refinery in Spiritwood, N.D., with a groundbreaking slated for 2020.

The facility will turn North Dakota wheat straw into a carbon-neutral automotive fuel. The technology license was purchased from Ørsted, a Danish green-energy company. Ørsted developed the technology over 15 years at a cost exceeding $200 million, proving efficacy and commercial operation at its refinery in Kalundborg for nearly five of those years.

“A number of our executives worked with Ørsted developing this technology,” says Thomas Corle, CEO of New Energy Blue. “Our engineers continued to optimize the process of the refineries we’re designing today.”

The company intends to build a series of biomass refineries across grain belts and sugar-growing regions to process agricultural residues, including wheat straw, cornstalks, and sugar bagasse.

“Our plan is to feed fuel markets in states like California and countries who likewise battle carbon pollution with policies that incentivize low-carbon biofuels made from agricultural residues,” Corle said.

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New Energy Blue’s refinery uses high-pressure steam followed by an enzyme bath to break down the biomass fibers into sugars and lignin that are valuable for making liquid and solid biofuels.

“Instead of using fresh water, our enclosed-loop design recycles the water from the biomass — about 15% moisture — which can produce a surplus of clean water for uses like irrigation," Corle said.