Questions About Cellulosic Ethanol

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What is Frontier Renewable Resources?

Frontier Renewable Resources is owned by Mascoma Corporation, a world-leading cellulosic ethanol research and development company, and J.M. Longyear, a natural resources management company founded in the late 1800s and based in Marquette, Michigan. Frontier is building one of the nation’s first commercial scale cellulosic ethanol plants, capable of initially producing up to 40 million gallons of ethanol, a liquid automotive fuel, a year. The plant will be located in the township of Kinross in Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula. In addition to reducing our dependence on imported oil, the project will also create around 800 good-paying Michigan jobs.

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How does the Frontier process actually work?

Frontier uses Mascoma’s patented technology called Consolidated Bioprocessing (CBP) that is low-cost and low-carbon. CBP harnesses nature’s best cellulose-using and ethanol-producing microbes that thrive in a manufacturing environment. CBP rapidly breaks down the components of the cellulosic biomass into sugars and ferments the sugars into ethanol. CBP is easier and more cost-effective than traditional enzymatic processes or gasification-and-catalysis.

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What kind of feedstock will the operation use?

Frontier will use hardwood pulpwood and hardwood chips from surplus pulpwood growing in Michigan forests around Kinross.

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How much is Frontier investing in the project?

Frontier is investing up to $300 million in the project, which will create more than 800 good-paying jobs.

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When will the Frontier project go online?

Frontier expects to have the facility up and operational in 2013, initially producing up to 40 million gallons of clean-burning, low-cost cellulosic ethanol. Frontier anticipates breaking ground on the project in 2011.

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How can I get a job with Frontier?

Frontier is committed to assembling the best team in homegrown, renewable fuels. We hope to employ people who share our commitment to sustainability and energy excellence, in jobs ranging from chemists to operators and managers to engineers. Job opportunities will be posted in the near future. Please check back periodically.

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Will Frontier use Michigan labor?

This will be a Michigan project, built from start to finish by highly trained Michigan workers. We are committed to ensuring that Michigan workers benefit from this project.

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Why did Frontier choose Michigan for its first site?

Michigan is a recognized leader in renewable fuels and alternative energy. Michigan’s manufacturing, forestry, agriculture, and research sectors – and its workers – are second to none. Michigan has rolled out the welcome mat for cutting-edge renewable fuels, and shown that it wants to be a partner in making the state a leader in fuels of the future that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

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How much wood will Frontier use?

Frontier will purchase wood from sustainably managed forest lands, operated under best management practices. Frontier can acquire the feedstock needed for the plant from surplus hardwood pulpwood currently accumulating every year in Michigan’s highly productive forests. One million green tons of pulpwood required each year to produce 40 million gallons of ethanol would come from a surplus growth of 3.9 million tons a year. This amounts to about 0.2 percent of all 487 million tons of live growing stock trees, within 150 miles of Kinross. Frontier’s project is low-cost and low-carbon, with minimal impact on our lakes, land, and air.

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Where will Frontier get its wood feedstock?

The feedstock will come from forestlands within a cost effective location to our facility in Kinross Township.

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Is this surplus wood in need of harvesting?

Frontier's purchase of surplus pulpwood will provide an opportunity for landowners to harvest, thin and improve their forests through sound sustainable forest management practices. Without adequate markets for primary forest products such as pulpwood, many landowners are unable to implement proper forest management and harvest schedules.

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What parts of the tree will Frontier use for making cellulosic ethanol?

Frontier will use the pulpwood from the main portion of the trunk of smaller "pulpwood-size" trees, and the upper portion of larger “sawtimber” trees. This also is typically referred to as pulpwood, which is then debarked and processed into wood chips. From stump to pump, Frontier’s cellulosic ethanol facility will generate very little waste because we will use all parts of the delivered pulpwood: the bark will be utilized or sold for boiler fuel, water in the tree will be used in the process, lignin will also be utilized or sold for boiler fuel, and the cellulose will be converted to the natural sugars to be turned into ethanol.

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What qualifies as sustainable forestry practices?

Sustainable forestry practices generally mean not harvesting more than what is growing. Frontier is committed to supporting sustainable forest management and best management practices, through its wood purchasing business commitments with landowners and loggers.

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What is surplus wood?

Surplus wood is the net annual growth of forest lands minus removals.

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How much timber does Michigan have?

Michigan has 19 million acres of forest containing 735 billion green tons of timber.

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How much of Michigan’s timber is surplus?

Surplus, or net annual growth minus removals, is substantial for Michigan forests. For the period 2003-2007 (latest available Forest Inventory and Analysis data from the U.S. Forest Service) the surplus growth added to the forest is 9.7 million green tons every year.

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Who owns Michigan’s forests?

Sixty-three percent of the forests are privately owned, 23 percent belong to the state and local governments, and 14 percent belong to the federal government.

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What makes Frontier different from other ethanol companies?

Frontier has solid backing from both the private sector and all levels of government. Frontier is a Michigan-based company owned by Mascoma Corporation, a global leader in cellulosic ethanol technology, and J.M. Longyear, a Michigan company and a leader in natural resources management. Frontier’s proposed facility uses inexpensive, abundant biomass from renewable surplus pulpwood. Frontier will not use food crops such as corn to make ethanol, allowing ethanol prices to remain more stable than ethanol from commodity sources.

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Is Frontier’s technology ready for commercial scale-up?

Yes. We are working closely with top researchers across Michigan and the world who are all committed to the same goal: developing cost-effective, large-scale cellulosic ethanol production. Frontier will deploy Mascoma’s groundbreaking technology using microorganisms to break down woody, non-food biomass and ferment it into cellulosic ethanol. We have an award-winning team that is a leader in the industry. Frontier is fully confident that this technology will be successful as we work to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and create jobs.

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Is cellulosic ethanol environmentally and economically beneficial?

Yes. Cellulosic ethanol uses 90 percent less fossil fuel to produce than conventional fuel, according to the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. Cellulosic ethanol is expected to be cost-competitive with gas, even at recent low gas prices. By 2012, when the Frontier plant is expected to begin full production, ethanol is estimated to cost $1.40 per gallon to produce, according to the National Renewable Energy Lab. And, just recently, two groundbreaking, independent studies showed that cellulosic ethanol is more advantageous to human health and the environment compared with corn ethanol, and that the cellulosic ethanol industry could generate up to 800,000 new jobs by 2030.

University of Minnesota study results: The human health and environmental costs of fuel production are approximately 32 cents per gallon of cellulosic ethanol, 71 cents per gallon of gasoline, and up to $1.45 per gallon of corn ethanol. Biotechnology Industry Organization study: The cellulosic ethanol industry could create up to 800,000 new jobs, mostly in engineering, manufacturing and agriculture. This could contribute $300 billion to the economy by 2030 and save the Nation $350 million in foreign oil purchases between 2009 and 2030.

Biotechnology Industry Organization study: The cellulosic ethanol industry could create up to 800,000 new jobs, mostly in engineering, manufacturing and agriculture. This could contribute $300 billion to the economy by 2030 and save the Nation $350 million in foreign oil purchases between 2009 and 2030.

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Who supports cellulosic ethanol?

In order to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create an affordable, homegrown source of fuel, President Bush signed The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (H.R.6.). The bill mandates that advanced biofuel production reach 21 billion gallons by 2022, with 16 billion gallons attributed to cellulosic ethanol. In addition, President Obama has made cellulosic ethanol a pillar of our nation’s energy policy, with the goal of producing 2 billion gallons by 2013. Frontier has the support of the federal government, the State of Michigan, General Motors, Marathon Oil Corporation, and many other partners. The State of Michigan is committed to developing and implementing cellulosic ethanol technology. It has backed up that commitment by designating the Frontier site as a Center of Energy Excellence, as well as establishing a Renewable Fuels Commission dedicated to making Michigan a leader in next generation ethanol.

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Will cellulosic ethanol have a negative impact on cars and trucks on the road right now?

Not at all. Cellulosic ethanol blended at 10 percent can be safely used in gasoline-powered cars right now. Cellulosic ethanol blended at 85 percent is compatible with flex-fuel vehicles that are also on the road.

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How many jobs will be added and over what timeframe?

The plant construction phase will create 150 temporary jobs. When complete, the fully operational Frontier facility will employ up to 50 employees including operators, chemists, maintenance, engineers, shipping/receiving, laboratory technicians, and office management. Altogether, the State of Michigan estimates that the Frontier project could create an additional 700 jobs in the agriculture, timber, and manufacturing industries.

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