Burn, baby burn

Michigan State Roundup

Published November 1, 2008  | November 2008 issue

The U.P. is becoming a hub for what will reportedly be the largest producer of blended biomass fuel in the country.

Renewafuel is in the planning stages of building a production plant outside Marquette, where it will produce charcoal briquette-sized cubes made from wood, grasses, corn stalks and other natural inputs. The fuel is reportedly on par with coal in terms of its energy output, but emits significantly fewer pollutants than the fossil fuel. The firm also has a facility in Battle Creek, Mich., and announced another production plant in Cusson, Minn., in September. It hopes to grow its business to 2.5 million tons in five years.

The company is a subsidiary of Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., a major iron ore producer with two active mines in the U.P. Cleveland-Cliffs plans to use the fuel for its U.P. and Minnesota mines, but there are other potential clients as well. Earlier this year, Marquette County’s Board of Light and Power announced that it would purchase 60,000 tons of biomass cubes to fuel one of its power plants.

Ronald A. Wirtz