Cora Texas Sugar Mill is to produce Bagasse pellets
Cora Texas Sugar Mill to produce Bagasse pellets

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Frank Randazzo, chief operating officer of NFR BioEnergy, have announced the company will make a $312 million capital investment to install biorefineries at more than 10 sugar refining hubs in south Louisiana, subject to completing lease and biomass agreements with sugar mills. NFR BioEnergy will convert sugar cane waste, known as bagasse, into hardened energy pellets for use as fuel at global power plants. NFR BioEnergy has begun development of the first biorefinery in White Castle, Louisiana, where it is collocating the facility with the Cora Texas Sugar Mill.

Pending the sugar mill agreements, NFR BioEnergy will construct a series of biorefineries across South Louisiana’s sugar cane-growing region and create 450 new direct jobs. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in an additional 1,903 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 2,300 new jobs in the state. The conversion of sugar cane biomass into energy pellets through a torrefaction process has been aided by research at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Energy Institute.

NFR BioEnergy, now based in Plandome, New York, will move its headquarters to White Castle as it completes the first part of the project. A demonstration biorefinery will begin operations soon at the Cora Texas Sugar Mill, where NFR BioEnergy is leasing 15 acres. A larger, commercial-scale biorefinery also is developed at that site with a targeted completion in time for the 2015 sugar cane growing and refining season.

“The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s College of Engineering is excited about working with NFR BioEnergy to increase markets for Louisiana biomass,” said Mark Zappi, dean of UL Lafayette College of Engineering. “The (UL Lafayette) Energy Institute and its Cleco Alternative Energy Center offer the infrastructure and research expertise in torrefaction of sugar cane bagasse that is of great relevance to NFR BioEnergy. This project is an excellent example of how industry and academia can work together to grow Louisiana’s economy. UL Lafayette looks forward to continued collaboration with NFR BioEnergy.”

LED began working with NFR BioEnergy on the potential project in March 2013. To secure the project, the State of Louisiana offered the company a competitive incentive package that includes a performance-based, $500,000 Economic Development Award Program grant and the comprehensive workforce solutions of LED FastStart, ranked the No. 1 state workforce development program in the nation for the past five consecutive years. NFR BioEnergy also is expected to utilize Louisiana’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.