Written by R.E. Lord

Image The nation's first ever biorefinery designed to convert switchgrass into ethanol has recently been christened in Tennessee.  The demonstration facily is 74,000-square-foot and experts predict that the plant should produce 250,000 gallons of ethanol.  In addition to switchgrass, the plant uses matter from agricultural residue (such as corn cobs) and bioenergy crops.

The plant is expected to open for commercial purposes in 2012.  Tennessee has allocated $70 million on the project of turning switchgrass into ethanol, or "grassoline" as they call it.  The impetus for the project comes from the Federal government as Congress has mandated an increase in the use of ethanol.

Local growers, up to about 40 in the region, are receiving subsidies to grow switchgrass for use as ethanol and at present about 2,600 acres of the crop are being grown in the area.