Coskata starts up ethanol facility

Biofuel developer Coskata has successfully started up its FlexEthanol facility in Madison, Pennsylvania.

‘This facility demonstrates that our conversion technology is ready for commercialisation,’ said Bill Roe, president and chief executive officer of Coskata. ‘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 FlexEthanol facility will produce ethanol from numerous feedstocks, including wood biomass, agricultural waste, sustainable energy crops and construction waste.

The biorefinery, which uses Westinghouse Plasma Gasification on the front end and Coskata’s syngas-to-biofuels conversion process on the back end, is a demonstration of ‘minimum-scale engineering’, an industry-standard term that means it is the smallest size that will still allow the company to scale up the process directly to 50-million- and 100-million-gallon facilities.

Some of the ethanol that is being produced has been delivered to General Motors’ Milford Proving Grounds for early testing, as well as to another major strategic partner.

General Motors, which has an equity stake in Coskata, has produced more than five million flex-fuel vehicles to date. In the US alone, there are more than 3.5 million General Motors flex-fuel cars and trucks on the road.

General Motors intends to make more than half of its vehicle production flex-fuel capable by 2012.