One company planning to build a cellulosic ethanol plant recently received a U.S. government loan guarantee, another got a conditional commitment for a loan guarantee, and a third announced that it won’t need the guarantee it was awarded last year.

Zeachem, Inc., announced that it has been selected for a $232.5 million loan guarantee from USDA’s Biorefinery Assistance Program. The company is developing a 25-million-gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol production plant in Boardman, OR. Woody biomass and agricultural residues will be the seedstocks.

The award is “a significant validation for ZeaChem’s highly efficient, economical and flexible biorefinery technology,” said Jim Imbler, ZeaChem’s president and CEO.

USDA Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced approval of a conditional commitment for a $25-million guaranteed loan to Fiberight, LLC, to build a plant in Blairstown, IA. The 3.6-million-gallon-per-year facility will produce cellulosic ethanol from municipal solid wastes and other industrial pulps as well as conventional renewable fuel derived from seed corn waste. The process will use a cellulosic microbe said to produce up to 15% more ethanol than traditional fermentation technology.

Under the conditional commitment, Fiberight must meet specified conditions before the loan guarantee can be completed. Other funding comes from the state of Iowa; the company also received a $2.5 million grant from the Iowa Power Fund in 2010.

Meanwhile, Poet, LLC, and the Dutch company Royal DSM revealed that they have formed a joint venture to “commercially demonstrate and license cellulosic ethanol” using their complementary technologies. POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC, expects to start production late next year at a 25-million-gallon-per-year plant at Emmetsburg, IA. Called Project Liberty, it will use corn stover as the seedstock.

Poet and DSM will each hold a 50% share in the joint venture, which will be headquartered in Sioux Falls, SD. The initial capital expenditure in Project Liberty will be about $250 million.

Due to the joint venture, Poet founder and CEO Jeff Broin said his company will decline the $105 million loan guarantee it was awarded last year by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

“The loan-guarantee commitment from the DOE was an important milestone in our quest to commercialize cellulosic ethanol and we are appreciative of the work they put into the due-diligence process,” said Broin. “We believe that the joint venture with DSM positions us well to meet our ambitious cellulosic ethanol production goals, and thus the loan guarantee has become unnecessary.”