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By Robert Rapier on Jan 12, 2011 with 31 responses

Range Fuels Out of Money?

It is no secret that I have been a critic of Range Fuels — not necessarily of their technology but of their approach. I won’t rehash all of the issues I have had with the company; in a nutshell I felt they like were making claims that were very unreasonable, and taking in a lot of taxpayer money based on those claims. As a taxpayer and someone very concerned about energy policy, I spoke out on what I felt were serious deficiencies in the way projects get funded; namely that the companies that make the most outrageous claims are too often the ones that get funded.

I also had my critics who insisted that I didn’t know what I was talking about; that Range was doing something unique and remarkable, and that I didn’t understand that some of the money they were spending was for future expansions. An engineer at NREL called my criticisms unfair. The CEO of Range Fuels stated that my information wasdisappointing to say the least and clearly misleading and inaccurate.” One of the engineers involved in the Range project said that my essays demonstrated a “lack of knowledge or understanding of the Range Fuels project.”

Only time will tell if current events mark the beginning of the end for Range, but something appears to be afoot. A few days ago a story in Biofuels Digest indicated that Range Fuels had begun to lay people off. That story was later denounced by Range CEO David Aldous:

David Aldous, CEO of Range Fuels, responded Monday afternoon that “the statement ‘the people who work in Broomfield were told not to come to work (Thursday).’ is not correct,” and said that he was traveling and in meetings during the 76 hours between the Digest’s query and his response. He did not elaborate on the status at Broomfield, but described the initial Digest report as “irresponsible reporting” and added “I planned to give you an update on Soperton but now I have no further comments for you.”

Today comes another story that says that Range is “laying off most of its employees.” This story contains quotes from a key Range advisor (and inventor of the gasifier Range was using) suggesting that in fact all is not well in Georgia:

Range Fuels Plant Needs More Money

SOPERTON,Ga. — A South Georgia plant that turns wood waste into fuel is stopping production right after they make their first batch of ethanol. Range Fuels in Soperton is also laying off most of its employees.

In 2007 the Colorado-based company broke ground on its Georgia facility in the heart of timber country. At the time it was supposed to be the first plant in the country to make so-called “cellulosic ethanol.”

Since then they’ve received 320-million dollars in state, federal and private money. But now they need more.

Range Fuel technical advisor Bud Klepper says this first run of ethanol is part of an agreement with the federal government.

“This run campaign is to demonstrate that facet of the technology and when we’re done doing that then we’ll shut down.”

Klepper says they plan to keep four employees at the plant while they raise more money and work through some technical issues.

This may not yet close the book on Range. They will probably find some additional funding. But I have to wonder who is accountable for the $320 million they have already taken in, or at least the portion that came from taxpayers. What exactly has been accomplished as a result of the money that was spent?

As I indicated in previous stories, I feel like the Range story is a cautionary tale with elements of hubris, incompetence, naivety, and political agencies all too eager to believe the claims they were fed. It provides in my opinion an example of so many things that are wrong with our energy policy — when politics and wishful thinking win out over sound science.

My sincere hope is that Range can salvage something out of this (understand that being a critic is different from hoping they fail) because we need some successes in the biofuel arena. But I hope other companies take heed and are a bit more cautious with their projections, because if we base our energy policy on outrageous projections, we will be staring at a major shortfall of domestic fuel in a few short years.

  1. By WILLIAM RICKS on January 12, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    The company management never was a friend to the community at large. We met some of the workers from Colorado, and they were nice people who patronized local businesses.
    Range Fuels never seemed to have a public relations department. The local development authority and privileged class had some contact, but the average person was left guessing.
    You’d expect that a $350 million operation would generate a few local jobs, but that didn’t happen.
    It’s bad news here in Soperton today, but tomorrow, January 13, there will be a bright spot, as Repreve Renewables will have its first field day for Freedom Giant Miscanthus. Phillip Jennings, a life-long hometown man, successful in the sod industry joined other talent in Mississippi with intentions to plant 10,000 acres this year. They had hopes of selling product to Range Fuels.
    Citizens stood and watched when Range unloaded their “big boiler” off a rail car, and they could see a bit of the steel building from the perimeter fence. But many of them wonder how anybody could spend $75 million with so little to show for it. Won’t they be surprised when they learn it was four times that amount?
    Bill Ricks

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  2. By carbonbridge on January 12, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Robert Rapier said:

    It is no secret that I have been a critic of Range Fuels — not necessarily of their technology but of their approach. 


     

    RR:  Catching up just a little bit of your blog tonight after long travel between continents.  Rather interesting to leave tropical weather on Kona’s airport lava beach at 80 degrees and step off a jumbo jet many hours later into 4+ degrees in snowy Denver.

    I’m tempted to expound upon what you’ve written in this latest essay but I’ll choose to publicly refrain.  I’ve watched and cached materials on this private firm for the past fourty seven months — there has been excessive early spin as has been read and reported.  There has also been very little of the real mechanization and catalytic synthesis reported from this well-funded startup company which involves specific GTL catalytic knowledge plus formulas, gov’t approvals and patents.

    To those who cannot interpret anything here, I’ll say this much.  Range has publicly boasted about producing cellulosic ethanol for years and has received Federal grant money and loan guarantees to assist in their groundbreaking endeavors.  Their news releases for 3+ years talk specifically about nothing other than cellulosic ethanol.  During the past six months or so the publics have learned that Range’s Sooperton plant’s beginnings has run into a variety of mechanical difficulties.  And it has been reported in 2010 that they began fuel production by producing just a little volume of C1 methanol via GTL catalytic synthesis methods while working to de-bug their high pressure system…  This beginning producing only methanol makes sense.

    During the past four months, a few limited public statements were ‘allowed’ to indicate that Range was somehow working to produce mixed alcohols.  What are those?  This formula definately is not the standard defination for cellulosic ethanol in any shape or form whatsoever.  I’ve previously suggested on this blog that anybody really interested should review (via the internet) over 20 patents which this firm has filed and you’ll quickly begin to get a drift that cellulosic ethanol seemingly isn’t the target here.  It appears to many insiders that cellulosic ethanol was simply a public ‘buzzword’ which Range misused for years.

    Many observers will be interested to learn what/if/when Range produces any ‘ethanol’ as was stated in some of the news text which RR copied into this particular essay.  That devil, he’s oftentimes hidin’ somewhere in the details.  

    –Goodnight and may everybody working hard in Biofuels be rewarded for their specific efforts.  This is a difficult industry to fully comprehend, even for insiders…

    –Mark

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  3. By Wendell Mercantile on January 13, 2011 at 12:21 am

    RR~

    Three years ago General Motors got a big media splash when they invested in and became active partners with a cellulosic ethanol company called Coskata. Haven’t heard anything lately about Coskata, or if GM was still an active partner since their bankruptcy. GM also put money into another cellulosic startup called Mascoma.

    Have you heard how either Coskata or Mascoma is doing, or are they likely to be another Range Fuels?

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  4. By ronald-steenblik on January 13, 2011 at 1:36 am

    Excellent article, Robert. I cannot imagine anybody in the media — mainstream or not — being able (or brave enough) to write an investigative piece like this. Like Wendell, I would also be interested in hearing what has happened to “$1 per gallon” Coskata.

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  5. By Rufus on January 13, 2011 at 7:06 am

    I get the feeling that Enerkem is running into the same problems. Gassification is looking problematic (at least, at anything like price competitive levels,) I think.

    The only people that, at present, look like they might make it are the ones using the Inbicon/Novozymes, Dupont-Danisco technology. If they can’t get there it might not be a feasible product (cellulosic ethanol, I mean.)

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  6. By Oxymaven on January 13, 2011 at 8:37 am

    At this stage it seems that all pathways to cellulosic are “problematic”, not just gasification. If you believe the summary in this recent DoE slide, Mascoma / Frontier Renewables is likely to get the rest of their $75 mil from DoE in a few months. Also, WSJ today indicates that the #1 US refiner and #2 ethanol producer Valero is investing $50 mil in Mascoma, for what that’s worth, , but they still need at least a $210 mil loan guarantee. I’m still pretty uncertain if their ‘consolidated bioprocessing” is the answer either.
    RE – gasification – Didn’t hear anything last year about Choren – what kind of progress are they making at their Freiberg plant? Is it running at capacity yet?

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  7. By Wendell Mercantile on January 13, 2011 at 9:50 am

    SOPERTON,Ga. — A South Georgia plant that turns wood waste into fuel is stopping production right after they make their first batch of ethanol.

    One has to wonder if they had not concentrated on ethanol, but instead marketed methanol and mixed alcohol fuels, whether the outcome would have been the same.

    Of course that would have also required a political climate for those fuels instead of one dominated by the farm states and that concentrates on subsidizing corn and ethanol.

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  8. By Tim C on January 13, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    It appears to me that the most promising route from synthesis gas to ethanol is that developed by Celanese. They currently convert syngas to acetic acid via their so-called “acetyls platform”. Recently they have shown that they can hydrogenate acetic acid to ethanol at 99% selectivity using a Pt/Sn/silica catalyst. This approach sounds much more practical than Range Fuels’ attempts to produce ethanol directly from syngas, which is a huge challenge.

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  9. By rrapier on January 13, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    RR~

    Three years ago General Motors got a big media splash when they invested in and became active partners with a cellulosic ethanol company called Coskata. Haven’t heard anything lately about Coskata, or if GM was still an active partner since their bankruptcy. GM also put money into another cellulosic startup called Mascoma.

    Have you heard how either Coskata or Mascoma is doing, or are they likely to be another Range Fuels?


     

    Wendell,

    It was only two weeks ago that I wrote in my predictions for this year:

    “I also expect that the bills are going to start coming due for some of the high profile ‘next generation’ biofuel producers, and that we will see bankruptcies from some of the companies I have discussed in this column. Some of them — probably most of them — do not have a sustainable business model, and the length of time they will be able to avoid bankruptcy is going to be solely dependent on how much cash they can manage to get infused into their operations.”

    I had considered naming names; in fact I almost just flat out predicted that Range would go bankrupt this year. Sam and I discussed it privately, and I finally decided not to name names. But you may recall that I have been critical of Coskata’s claims as well. I don’t know Mascoma well enough to comment on their prospects, but I have long felt that Range would end up where they are.

    RR

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  10. By rrapier on January 13, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Tim C said:

    It appears to me that the most promising route from synthesis gas to ethanol is that developed by Celanese. They currently convert syngas to acetic acid via their so-called “acetyls platform”. Recently they have shown that they can hydrogenate acetic acid to ethanol at 99% selectivity using a Pt/Sn/silica catalyst. This approach sounds much more practical than Range Fuels’ attempts to produce ethanol directly from syngas, which is a huge challenge.


     

    Hi Tim,

    I actually worked for Celanese for my first seven years after graduating. I was in their OXO business line, mostly focused on butanol. I don’t know enough about the Acetyls business group to know whether the route you describe is commercially viable, but I agree that Range’s attempts to go directly from syngas to ethanol weren’t likely to be successful (although there are ways to do it, just very expensive).

    RR

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  11. By rrapier on January 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Rufus said:

    I get the feeling that Enerkem is running into the same problems. Gassification is looking problematic (at least, at anything like price competitive levels,) I think.

    The only people that, at present, look like they might make it are the ones using the Inbicon/Novozymes, Dupont-Danisco technology. If they can’t get there it might not be a feasible product (cellulosic ethanol, I mean.)


     

    The other side of the coin, Rufus, is that there are multiple large-scale gasification to liquid fuels units operating around the world; far beyond the scale of any cellulosic ethanol processes. So on one hand you believe that cellulosic might make it, on the other hand we can look at Shell or Sasol to see that gasification is even today commercial. There are added challenges in doing biomass instead of coal, but like so many other biomass processes it is a question of how much you are willing to pay to be renewable.

    RR

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  12. By rrapier on January 13, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Oxymaven said:

    RE – gasification – Didn’t hear anything last year about Choren – what kind of progress are they making at their Freiberg plant? Is it running at capacity yet?


     

    Choren is quietly going about their business as they have for several years. Because of my connection to Choren, I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t write any articles on them one way or the other. Of course I did write an article on them before my present job describing what they are doing:

    http://www.consumerenergyrepor…..btl-plant/

    RR

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  13. By rrapier on January 14, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Unless Valero is doing it to meet the mandate and avoid a future fine.

    A reporter asked me about this yesterday, and that is more or less what I said. Since Valero is a pure refiner, they are at the mercy of both oil prices and ethanol prices. Because the cellulosic subsidies are so large — and because they have to blend ethanol — it is probably a reasonable gamble for them and a hedge. Even if the process isn’t commercially feasible, they may figure the generous subsidies should continue for long enough for them to earn a return on their investment.

    RR

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  14. By Wendell Mercantile on January 14, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Speak of the devil, this story about Mascoma popped up in the New York Times yesterday: A Step Toward Car Fuel From Wood Waste

    Valero is agreeing to take Mascoma’s production, no doubt to meet the Federal mandate to blend cellulosic ethanol with gasoline:

    A federal law requires companies that produce gasoline to blend in 250 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol this year, but the Environmental Protection Agency reduced that quota to a more realistic six million gallons.

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  15. By Rufus on January 14, 2011 at 10:59 am

    The bottom line, Robert, as you well know, is that NO One is going to invest large amounts ($100′s of millions) of their Own Money on a project that won’t turn a Profit “Without Subsidies.”

    Personally, I wouldn’t invest a nickel if I didn’t have the expertise to be certain that the project could produce ethanol, without subsidies, for $2.00/gal, or less. In fact, to invest more than an insignificant amount I would have to be pretty sure that we were looking at something in the $1.50/gal range.

    Valero is a pretty smart bunch of folks. If they are investing $50 Million in this deal there’s probably something to it. Mascoma mainly relies on a bio-chemical process (termite guts enzymes,) right?

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  16. By Wendell Mercantile on January 14, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Valero is a pretty smart bunch of folks. If they are investing $50 Million in this deal there’s probably something to it.

    Unless Valero is doing it to meet the mandate and avoid a future fine. If the fine for not complying with the mandate was going to be > $50 million, then making a deal with Mascoma would be cheap insurance. Even if Mascoma can’t do as promised, Valero can go back to the EPA and say, “What more could we have done?” and the sympathetic people at EPA would have to say, “”Nothing, you did the best you could. No fine.”

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  17. By Rufus on January 14, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    I kind of agree with that. There is no doubt that the mandate has to play some role in their decision-making.

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  18. By Wendell Mercantile on January 14, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    There is no doubt that the mandate has to play some role in their decision-making.

    Gee! Who would have thunk it?

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  19. By biocrude on January 14, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I think I actually might have something that both Rufus and RR will like!  There are preliminary reports of future cellulosic ethanol in Iowa:

    From OPIS today:

     IOWA GIVES INITIAL FUNDING APPROVAL FOR DUPONT DANISCO CELLULOSIC DEMO PLANT

       The Iowa Power Fund has given preliminary approval for a $9 million grant to

    help DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol (DDCE) bring online a demonstration-

    scale cellulosic biofuel plant in the state.

       According to the Iowa Power Fund Board, a final contract will be negotiated

    and could be approved as early as February’s board meeting, it noted in a press

    release earlier this week.

       The terms call for a $9 million grant from the Iowa Power Fund, combined

    with more than $226 million in matching funds by DDCE, for a total project cost

    of more than $235 million.

       While a specific Iowa location has not yet been selected, the demonstration-

    scale plant would be capable of producing 25 million gal/yr, using corn stover

    as its main feedstock, the Iowa Power Fund noted.

       The news comes as DuPont announced last weekend that it had entered into a

    definitive agreement to acquire Danisco for $5.8 billion in cash and assumption

    of $500 million of Danisco net debt. In May 2008, DuPont and Genencor announced

    they were launching a U.S.-based cellulosic ethanol joint venture –DDCE. The

    joint venture already operates a 250,000-gal/yr cellulosic ethanol pilot plant

    in Vonore, Tenn. Commercial production at the plant is scheduled to begin in

    2012.

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  20. By Benny BND Cole on January 14, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Excellent article–btw, I was a business reporter (and still freelance) for more than 20 years. When a CEO dodges reporters, it is almost always really bad news. If they then act righteous, and accuse the reporter of being sloppy, hasty etc, it is really, really bad news.

    In this era, with e-mails, voice mails, fax etc, when an exec says he can’t talk, he is lying. If he has any sense of loyalty or responsibility to investors, he knows he must quell bad rumors quickly–if they are rumors.

    If they are fact, then he has to come clean.

    Many choose the middle ground, of not coming clean, and dodging, or obfuscating, or attacking—sad, as eventually everything goes bust anyway. Usually, they just want to carve more flesh off of the carcass, or get fresh losers to invest in the mess.

    Range Fuels hostility towards RR is classic. But Range Fuels investors owe RR some thanks–especially those investors who chose not to invest.

    Anyway, lying is just old-fashioned bad, and attacking people for pointing out the truth is just old-fashioned bad. The Range Fuels crowd has discredited themselves.

    The odd thing is probably management will pop up again somewhere again. Once they know the “formula” for raising money, they will do it again. The next “hot” thing in energy, they will be there.

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  21. By Rufus on January 14, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Thanks, Biocrude. If I remember correctly, Dupont Danisco (actually, just Dupont, now, I guess) will be funding the plant with its own money (although there could be DOE money involved – it’s kind of hard to keep up with all the different deals popping up.)

    Interestingly, one of those locations is very close to Poet’s Emmetsburg plant, and the site of Poet’s proposed Liberty Corn Stover Project. This would be some Real “Hardball,” inasmuch as the closest you would want to put two corn stover plants would seem to be somewhere around fifty miles apart.

    As the reporter said: Developing

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  22. By russ-finley on January 15, 2011 at 12:43 am

    This just in:

    The bad news about the layoffs at cellulosic biofuel maker Range Fuels just got worse. The financially-strapped company plans to shut down its plant in Georgia after making just one batch of ethanol, according to a post by Georgia Public Broadcasting.

     The story quoted Bud Klepper, who’s not only Range Fuels’ technical advisor but also the original founder of the company that became Range Fuels (previously called Kergy). Klepper told the publication that Range Fuels is laying off most of its employees at its plant near Soperton, Ga, after it makes a single batch of ethanol, and the company will shut down the plant while it tackles technical problems and raises more money.

     We guess that when the company told us earlier this week that it expected to start producing ethanol this week, it really meant it would produce just a single batch, followed by throwing in the towel on the plant and workers.

     

    http://gigaom.com/cleantech/re…..own-plant/

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  23. By carbonbridge on January 15, 2011 at 2:22 am

    Russ Finley said:

    This just in:  The bad news about the layoffs at cellulosic biofuel maker Range Fuels just got worse. 


     

    Can Permaculture Save The Farm?

    Here is a heartwarming film about a woman who grew up on a traditional

    farm in Devon, England, exploring the question of how her family farm

    can survive in a future without cheap fossil fuels.  The answers well illustrated

    in this 48 min. film are a bit off-topic but of topical interest and have everything to do

    with BIODIVERSITY amid peak oil declines.  Anyone who takes even five minutes to

    explore and view this recent video will be captivated — as I’m sure Russ will be. 

    –Mark

     

    As the lady-farmer points out, even small organic farms are completely dependent

    on methods that require oil, even if they don’t fertilize the crops.

    It is an engaging and informative film, worth every minute.  A special

    scene is where she takes apart a store bought sandwich and considers

    exactly how much fossil fuel was required to produce and ship this item

    to her nearest convenience store.

    More than 96 per cent of all the food grown in Britain is reliant on

    synthetic fertilizer. Without it there would be serious trouble.

    Can she save the farm using permaculture principles — or not?

    Have a look!  [ link came from one of our shareholders tonight...  :-)   ]

    http://www.nextworldtv.com/page/760.html

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  24. By ronald-steenblik on January 15, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Thanks for the news item, Russ.

    And great video, CarbonBridge. I watched the whole thing. Hard to tell whether the kind of agriculture they feature towards the end could produce a significant amount of exportable (i.e., off-farm) surplus, but my take-away is this:

    • Alternative agricultural systems, such as permaculture, could benefit from a lot more R&D. Currently, the bulk of R&D in agriculture is in support of conventional agriculture. Yet there is so much that can be gained by examples such as the one depicted in the film: substituting grasses that can withstand winter grazing instead of ones that force the animals inside.
    • We need to educate people about food alternatives. The main fare in developed countries has become narrower and narrower over time, dominated by just a few crops and animal products. Until a fungal blight devastated the trees, people in the eastern United States used to eat a lot of things made with chestnut flour. This food has since essentially disappeared from the United States. But on the French island of Corsica, chestnut flour is making a big comeback, as is meat from wild boars and semi-wild pigs, as the natives (and tourists) are rediscovering the joys of local cuisine. Let’s hope that the efforts of The American Chestnut Foundation to introduce a disease-resistant variety back into the forests of the east succeed.

    I, for one, would like to see an expanded discussion of the links between energy and agriculture (and not just agriculture as a provider of energy) on this blog.

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  25. By Wendell Mercantile on January 15, 2011 at 11:09 am

    As the lady-farmer points out, even small organic farms are completely dependent on methods that require oil…

    I don’t know about that. About 70 miles northwest of where I live a bunch of Amish have bought up many old small, abandoned farms that were considered unprofitable using modern, energy-intensive farming methods. They seem to be making them prosper, using little more than horses, their farming expertise, and a love for the land. As far as I can tell when I’ve visited that area, their fossil fuel use is extremely limited. They do use some fossil fuels — for example they use kerosene lamps in their houses at night — but they are no more dependent on fossil fuels than were farms in this region in the mid-1800s.

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  26. By Walt on January 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Tim C said:

    It appears to me that the most promising route from synthesis gas to ethanol is that developed by Celanese. They currently convert syngas to acetic acid via their so-called “acetyls platform”. Recently they have shown that they can hydrogenate acetic acid to ethanol at 99% selectivity using a Pt/Sn/silica catalyst. This approach sounds much more practical than Range Fuels’ attempts to produce ethanol directly from syngas, which is a huge challenge.


     

    This is very interesting…this could  be a serious player with Celanese behind the operation.

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  27. By Walt on January 15, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Robert Rapier said:

    I had considered naming names; in fact I almost just flat out predicted that Range would go bankrupt this year. Sam and I discussed it privately, and I finally decided not to name names. But you may recall that I have been critical of Coskata’s claims as well. I don’t know Mascoma well enough to comment on their prospects, but I have long felt that Range would end up where they are.

    RR


     

    Coskata management is the same management as Great Point Energy.  Both have received massive funding from VC’s and from industry.  I remember introducing the Great Point Energy website to the head of Dow Chemical R&D when he came to visit us in 2006, and was later happy to see Dow thought Great Point was the holy grail to join in the $100 million funding.  I often wondered in my discussions about them at the time helped to lead Great Point to the $100 million pay day…since it was clear he did not know who Great Point was at the time.

    http://www.atvcapital.com/atv-…..al-company

    I was really surprised when Total’s VC group put who knows how many millions and millions into Coskata, but with all the press about Coskata and their $1.00 ethanol, I knew that Total’s investment was based upon substance.  There is something there as I think Total guys are very smart even though I cannot convince the super majors like Total in direct conversion of methane-to-methanol.

    http://www.coskata.com/media/?…..C2E1D87B2D

    One thing that is obvious to me is that large companies want to invest in companies who already have a lot of investors to reduce their exposure, and nobody wants to be fired from a company for making a bad investment…especially the first or second round.  I really don’t think it is as much to do with the technology merits anymore as it is to do with the risk of losing money, and saying to a board everyone else lost as well, and the decision is deserving as just a bad hair day.  Technology merit comes at the engineer level, but business decisions come purely at the board and political level where people can push off responsibility for bad decisions to the tax payer, shareholder or politican.  It is just wacky out there.

    The management like Coskata and Great Point know how to raise money coming out of Silicon Valley if I’m not mistaken, and they most certainly know how to spend it.  I would not be surprised if these companies spend $500 million to get these two technologies into the market and both of them are winners if the science is sound.  Time will tell…I wish them success as we don’t need a lot of bad stories for those of us out here trying to press forward in a skeptical market.

     

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  28. By russ-finley on January 15, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    CarbonBridge said:

    …a bit off-topic but of topical interest and have everything to do with BIODIVERSITY amid peak oil declines.  Anyone who takes even five minutes to explore and view this recent video will be captivated.


     

    Great link. Not so off topic …

     

    “…At Britain’s current rate of oil use, a whole year’s harvest (oil seed rape) of a four acre field like this would be used up in one-third of a second…”

     

    Our oil use is equivalent to “…22 billion slaves working around the clock.”

     

     

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  29. By Walt on January 17, 2011 at 2:26 am

    Range Fuels could be saved very shortly after the latest release of the 111th Congress Staff Report.

    This has got lobbies very hopeful, and there are a handful of VC’s getting ready for the big payday with their portfolio companies.  Yippeee, another tax payer funded payday…don’t you wish we could all work for the federal government?  Opps, I think we do!  The problem is that it goes from my pocket to DC and then to private companies who spend it like a drunken sailer.  I once commented I am not going to ask a drunken sailer to stop drinking, but if they are spending all my money I really would like them to stop immediately.  That is not unreasonable, is it?

    —————————–

    We are at a watershed moment in the history of energy production—and the
    choices we make at this juncture will determine the fate of our planet
    and the national security and economic future of the United States.
     Between now and 2030, roughly $26 trillion will be invested in energy
    infrastructure worldwide. Clean energy will likely make up an increasing
    share of this investment with every passing year. The International
    Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that $5.7 trillion will be invested in
    renewable electricity generation alone between 2010 and 2035.1  This new
    infrastructure is long-lived and costly, and the decisions made in the
    next decade will set the course of the global and U.S. energy system—and
    of the global climate—for the next century and beyond.  This transition
    also presents an unprecedented opportunity for economic growth and job
    creation in the clean energy technology sector.  Other countries are
    taking the lead in clean energy and the United States must act now if it
    is to remain competitive in this rapidly developing global market.

    —————————

    http://globalwarming.house.gov…..in_content

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  30. By Benny BND Cole on January 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Wendell-

    I enjoyed your post. Years ago (decades), I travelled through Amish country. I stopped alongside a road, just to get a view of horse-drawn farm implements in action. The driver of the implement (corn, as I recall) was so nice, he dismounted to ask me if I needed directions.

    I left with warm feelings towards all Amish. A remindeer of how a simple act can leave lasting impressions.

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  31. By Benny BND Cole on January 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    BTW, over at Greencarcongress they osted this today. Methanol is doable.
    Rufus should be a huge backer of methanol–it is domestically made.

    Taking another look at methanol as an alternative transportation fuel for the US
    17 January 2011
    A recent white paper by Leslie Bromberg of MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center and Wai K. Cheng of the Sloan Automotive Laboratory assessing the prospects for methanol as an alternative transportation fuel in the US concludes that methanol is a safe and viable transportation fuel, although it not as good as ethanol in terms of energy density and ease of handling. However, while significant investment would need to be made for large-scale methanol deployment in the transportation sector, there is no technical hurdle both in terms of vehicle application and of distribution infrastructure, they noted.

    While methanol has not become a substantial transportation fuel in US despite earlier trials, its present large industrial scale use and the former availability of production methanol flex-fuel vehicles (FFV)—developed as part of the earlier methanol programs—have demonstrated that it is a viable fuel and technology exists for both vehicle application and fuel distribution.

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