Friday, March 7, 2008

cellulosic ethanol for under $1 per gallon? Coskata says yes, and now.

The editor had doubts, serious doubts that the hype surrounding startup biofuels wonderkin Coskata, fresh from a capital injection from none other than General Motors, was justified. Could they really hold up to the claim of producing cellolosic ethanol, from virtually any organic feedstock, for under a dollar a gallon. Not likely, not in this decade at least.

That was before he saw it for himself...

For years we've heard that ethanol's viability as an automotive fuel will depend on cellulosic sources. "Could this be it?" I asked myself as the plant tour ended. From what I've seen so far, it absolutely could be, and then some. We won't know, though, until we see how well and affordably Coskata's process scales up. Currently under construction is a 40,000-gallon-per-year demonstration plant that late this year or in early 2016 will begin supplying GM with ethanol. Coskata will also work with ICM, the company responsible for roughly half of the current corn-based-ethanol plants, to build a commercial facility capable of producing 50 to 100 million gallons per year. Its product should be in consumers' cars early in 2011.

Update: Wes Bolton, Coskata CMO answers the scaling question with a definitive yes...

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