New Energy Blue and ARCO/Murray Partner to Build Biomass Refineries

New Energy Blue

LANCASTER, PA, and CHICAGO, IL—New Energy Blue and ARCO/Murray recently announced a partnership to develop biomass refineries across the American Midwest. The flagship project, New Energy Freedom, will be built in Mason City, Iowa, with a $650 million construction contract. This facility will convert corn stalks into ethanol and clean lignin on a large scale.

In 2023, New Energy Blue completed design engineering, secured local permits, and tested new harvesting methods. The project entered its final investment decision phase in 2024. Construction is set to begin later this year, with operations starting in 2026.

The economic impact of the Freedom refinery is expected to be substantial. In Iowa, where ethanol production contributes about $8 billion annually to household incomes, the new facility is projected to create 400 to 500 high-paying construction jobs over 20 months. Additionally, 70 permanent jobs will be offered, with an annual payroll of $7 million. The broader economic effects could support up to 5,000 jobs.

Local farmers will benefit from selling excess corn stalks and participating in profit-sharing through New Energy Farmers.

Patrick Hidder, ARCO/Murray’s Executive Vice President, stated, “We are excited to partner with New Energy Blue on this groundbreaking biomass refining project, reflecting our shared commitment to sustainability and innovation.”

James Foster, New Energy Blue’s VP of Construction, highlighted ARCO/Murray’s immediate impact on accelerating the project and managing costs.

Following the completion of the Freedom refinery, the partnership plans to build four additional refineries over the next five years, leveraging the area’s abundant corn stover.

New Energy Blue CEO Thomas Corle aims to license the technology and business model to replace fossil fuels faster. “ARCO/Murray is right-sized to handle the construction—$6.8 billion in revenue in 2023, and a history of 5500 finished projects,” he noted.

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