STARBUCK, Washington (From news reports) -- Developers of straw-pulp mill Columbia Pulp are shooting for late first-quarter operations this year.
Although construction got behind schedule, the plant -- described by the company as the first of its kind in North America -- is expected to operate by the end of March, according to coverage from the annual Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Update meeting last month in Dayton.
The meeting offered a platform for Columbia Pulp Operations Manager Tony Waldo to provide the update, the piece explained.
The facility will convert wheat and seed alfalfa straw from a 75-mile radius into pulp to be used as consumer and molded-fiber products.
The $184 million investment is slated to bring 60 to 100 skilled jobs to the site, located on a 449-acre spread outside Starbuck near the Lyons Ferry Bridge in Columbia County. Hiring continues.
The milling process is already taking place in Pomeroy at the Columbia Pulp Pilot Plant. The smaller plant has offered employee training at a site that can produce 10 tons of wet lap pulp daily, the coverage explained. When fully operational, the larger mill near Starbuck will produce 410 short air-dried tons of wet lap pulp daily.
The process for conversion was developed by scientists William McKean and Mark Lewis.
The straw is cooked to make the wet lap pulp, which leads to a combination of water fiber product and liquid product. Both of those have applications for manufacturing. The fiber pulp can be made into paper plates, cups, tissue and containers. The liquid, or biopolymers, the Times article explained, have application for livestock feed, dust control and de-icing.