$1 per gallon

A US biofuels company claims to have developed a process that will allow it to produce ethanol from renewable resources for less than $1.00 per gallon.

Warrenville, IL-based Coskata’s three three-step conversion process consists of a gasification stage, bio-fermentation stage and separation stage.

During gasification, carbon-based materials are first converted into syngas using well-established gasification technologies. After the chemical bonds are broken using gasification, the company’s proprietary microorganisms then convert the resulting syngas into ethanol by consuming the carbon monoxide and hydrogen in the gas stream.

Once the gas-to-liquid conversion process has occurred, the resulting ethanol is recovered from the solution using what the company calls its “pervaporation” technology.

Coskata says that its proprietary microorganisms eliminate the need for costly enzymatic pretreatments. What’s more, because its bio-fermentation process occurs at low pressures and temperatures, operational costs are reduced too. In addition, the Coskata process has the potential to yield over 100 gallons of ethanol per ton of dry carbonaceous input material, reducing both operational and capital costs.

Coskata is working closely with leading US research institutions focused on renewable energy to bring its syngas-to-ethanol process technology to market, including Oklahoma State University, The University of Oklahoma, Brigham Young University and Argonne National Laboratory.

Recently, the company formed a strategic partnership with General Motors, which has taken an undisclosed equity stake in the company.

Coskata was initially formed with funding from Advanced Technology Ventures (ATV), GreatPoint Ventures and Khosla Ventures.