Hoke refinery to reopen using tobacco to make ethanol

Posted June 2, 2014

— A Virginia company plans to reopen an ethanol refinery in Hoke County, using tobacco as its primary feedstock, officials said Monday.

The former Clean Burn Fuels biorefinery in Raeford has been idle for more than three years.

Tyton BioEnergy Systems wants to restart the plant as part of its strategy to convert its proprietary tobacco, to be grown regionally, into ethanol. The new operation will generate 79 jobs and invest $36 million over the next three years in Hoke, Wake and other counties, officials said.

The average annual wage for the new jobs will be $43,671, plus benefits. Hoke County's average annual wage is $33,032.

Tyton will initially use corn as the refinery feedstock and then transition to tobacco-sugars as farmers cultivate more acres of the company's so-called "energy tobacco."

The company has developed a tobacco plant that is a dedicated non-food fuel crop. Over the next five years, the company plans to grow its energy tobacco and establish local rural processing facilities to convert it into sugar for ethanol, oil for biodiesel and a “green” byproduct called biochar, which is used as a soil additive in the forestry and agriculture sectors.

“Tyton is committed to delivering value to North Carolina farmers and building the green-fuel basket of the mid-Atlantic through our agriculture and biofuels manufacturing operations” Tyton President Peter Majeranowski said in a statement. “There is a long and important history with tobacco in North Carolina, and we are excited to work with farmers and workers, especially veterans, across the state to create a new green-energy future for tobacco that will bring benefits to the region and world.”

The energy tobacco won't compete with traditional tobacco, but it offers farmers the opportunity to put it in rotation with other row crops or on lands not ideal for other crops, officials said.

“Farmers can get into the energy business and help North Carolina and our nation become energy independent,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a statement. “With North Carolina’s history and expertise in tobacco, this is an excellent opportunity to ensure tobacco farming’s viability.”

Tyton has qualified for a $232,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund, which provides financial assistance to attract business projects that will stimulate economic activity in the state. Companies receive no money up front and must meet job and investment targets to obtain the grant funds, which also also are contingent upon local matches.


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  • Grand Union Jun 2, 2014

    Only real question for me does it or does it not use more energy to grow it than it produces, its likely marginal at best and do we really wanting to be growing fuel rather than food. The real future of biofuels is still likely to be from processing agricultural waste rather than a grown product in itself.

  • Pretzel Logic Jun 2, 2014

    The average annual wage for the new (79) jobs will be $43,671,

    Yep, So one guy will make $2,000,000.00 and the other 78 will make $18,500.00

  • Pretzel Logic Jun 2, 2014

    My car gets 12% less mileage on E10 which means I have to buy 12% more fuel

    They've got it all figured in,,, $$$$$

  • dwr1964 Jun 2, 2014

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    Expelling your body of it's own waste, is a disgusting habit too. Please refrain from doing that anymore BubbaGump

  • mvenable Jun 2, 2014

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    I'd like to see people mind their own business.

  • 68_dodge_polara Jun 2, 2014

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    Yes, how about some fact's. A fact is that even new cars can get 10% less fuel mileage using 10% ethanol than with straight petroleum gasoline. Would seem the whole thing is a welfare program for corn farmers. Or worse yet a no cash for clunkers government program as the older cars fail do to using ethanol.

  • btneast Jun 2, 2014

    Ethanol used in engines meant to run ethanol use it just fine As far as damage to components, you are correct, but I do think it is much less efficient than typical gasoline.

  • Rod Runner Jun 2, 2014
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    Ethanol used in engines meant to run ethanol use it just fine. Brazil has cars that only run on ethanol.

    It is ethanol that is put into gasoline for use in gasoline only cars that is an issue for older cars. Not for newer cars than have been designed to have the 10% ethanol in the gasoline.

    E85 engines can run on the E85 gas sold at some stations just fine.

    Don't let facts get in the way of your rant though. Carry on.

  • Rod Runner Jun 2, 2014
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    Guess you missed reading the article where it says it is their special tobacco.

  • stymieindurham Jun 2, 2014

    Eventhough ethanol is TERRIBLE on enginees and doesn't help emmisssions any, some are still pushing this stuff????