Madison, PA - Coskata, a leading developer of next generation biofuels, today announced the successful start-up of their semi-commercial flex ethanol facility 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,” says 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.”
Unlike other technologies and facilities that may rely on one primary source of feedstock, Coskata’s flex ethanol facility will be producing ethanol from numerous feedstocks, including wood biomass, agricultural waste, sustainable energy crops, and construction waste.
This flexible approach at the Madison facility is enabled by Westinghouse Plasma Corporation (WPC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Alter NRG, and their plasma gasification technology.
The feedstock flexible nature of the Coskata approach also allows for true geographic flexibility, meaning facilities can be built anywhere a feedstock can be sourced or delivered.
Coskata’s technology, as demonstrated through Project Lighthouse, will be able to reduce greenhouse gasses by as much as 96 percent over conventional gasoline, while using less than half the water that it takes to get a gallon of gasoline.
In addition, the company’s ability to produce non grain-based ethanol that is as much as 7 times as energy positive as the fossil fuel used in the process, addresses many concerns related to traditional processes, including energy efficiency and the use of grain.
“The integrated biorefinery — utilizing Westinghouse Plasma Gasification on the front end and Coskata’s syngas-to-biofuels conversion process on the back end — serves as an excellent example of two leading companies working together to deliver a viable process to the biofuel market,” says Mark Montemurro, President and CEO of Alter NRG. “We’re excited to be delivering the feedstock flexibility to Coskatas efficient and affordable process.”
The facility is a demonstration of “minimum scale engineering,” an industry standard term which means it is the smallest size that will still allow the company to scale directly to 50 million and 100 million gallon Coskata facilities. Some of the ethanol that is being produced at the facility has been delivered to the General Motors Milford Proving Grounds for early testing, as well as to another major strategic partner. “We invested in Coskata so that we could enable the rapid deployment of commercially viable and environmentally sustainable ethanol globally,” said Bob Babik, GM Vehicle Emissions Director. “We’re proud to say that we have already accepted some of Coskata’s ethanol at our Milford facility.”
Globally, General Motors has produced more than 5 million flex-fuel vehicles to date. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 3.5 million GM flex-fuel cars and trucks on the road.
For the 2010 model year, 17 E85-capable flex-fuel vehicles from the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC brands.
GM is on track to make more than half of its vehicle production flex-fuel capable by 2012.
Coskata leverages proprietary microorganisms and efficient bioreactor designs in a unique three-step conversion process that can turn virtually any carbon-based feedstock into ethanol, from anywhere in the world.
Coskata’s biological fermentation technology is ethanol-specific and enzyme independent, contributing to high energy conversion rates and ethanol yields.
Additionally, the process requires no additional chemicals or pre-treatments, serving to streamline operational costs. In fact, the company has one of the lowest production costs in the industry, allowing them to directly compete with gasoline without long-term government subsidies.