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Potlatch considers adding biorefinery at Arkansas mill.

Potlatch Corp. of Spokane, Wash., is working with several partners to study the feasibility of adding a pilot biorefinery for converting forest and agricultural waste to biofuels and other chemicals at its Cypress Bend pulp and paperboard mill in Desha County.

The publicly traded forest products company said the biorefinery could reduce its energy costs and use of fossil fuels, thereby cutting atmospheric greenhouse gases.

Potlatch said it is working with Winrock International, the University of Arkansas at Monticello and the Division of Energy of the Arkansas Department of Economic Development on a study, which is still in preliminary stages. The partners hope to receive a Department of Energy grant to develop the project.

Harry Seamans, vice president of Potlatch's pulp and paperboard division, said the potential benefits of the biorefinery for Potlatch are "considerable." He said it could cut both natural gas consumption and purchased electricity "significantly."

"Our Cypress Bend" mill could potentially reduce natural gas usage by 1.6 million MMBTU per year and purchased electricity by 80,000 MWH per year," Seamans said.

But Potlatch officials added that biomass gasification is cutting-edge technology with high technical and financial risks.

Gov. Mike Huckabee and members of Arkansas' congressional delegation voiced support for Potlatch's moves. "This effort could provide a wonderful boost to the southeast Arkansas economy as well as give America another much needed renewable source of energy," Huckabee said.
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Title Annotation:FORESTRY
Author:Turner, Lance
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jan 16, 2006
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