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GM Coskata Biofuel plant opens

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[NYT article]

The waste material the companies are processing is rich in energy-containing substances like cellulose, a structural material from plants.

Some companies use steam, chemicals or enzymes to break down the cellulose so that sugars locked inside can be freed and fed to yeasts to make alcohol. Others break the cellulose into simpler components, like hydrogen and carbon monoxide. These can be re-formed into hydrocarbon molecules that can be used in place of gasoline or diesel.

Coskata uses a plasma torch, which shoots 8,000-degree jets of air at twice the speed of sound, to blast wood chips into hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Those gases are pumped into a tank of bacteria that feed on them and excrete ethanol. For each ton of pine chips, the pilot plant produces about 100 gallons of ethanol. Many people in the industry say they believe the economics should work at that yield.

Coskata plans to own some biorefineries and license its technology to others. According to Wesley J. Bolsen, Coskata’s chief marketing officer, “the question is how rapidly we can scale.”


GM backed Biofuels Company Announces Success at Ethanol Production from Multiple Feedstocks

Coskata Inc., a leading developer of next-generation biofuels, today announced the successful start-up of its semi-commercial flex-ethanol located in Madison, PA. The accomplishment represents the successful scale-up of the company’s technology, and will serve as a showcase for the world’s first commercially viable flex-ethanol process.

“We are proud that we have successfully scaled our technology to this significant level,” said Bill Roe, president and CEO of Coskata. “This facility is demonstrating that our efficient, affordable and flexible conversion technology is ready for commercialization. The next step is to build full-scale facilities and begin licensing our technology to project developers, project financiers and strategic partners.”


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