Coskata to unveil demonstration cellulosic ethanol plant

By Anna Austin | October 06, 2009
Report posted Oct. 8, 2009, at 9:35 a.m. CST

Cellulosic ethanol company Coskata Inc. will officially unveil its demonstration plant next week in Madison, Pa., after a year and a half construction period.

Coskata was founded in 2006 with funding from Khosla Ventures, Advanced Technology Ventures and Great Point Ventures, and made a significant public debut in January 2008 when General Motors Corp. announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit it would invest an undisclosed amount of money in the company.

Coskata employs a three-step process technology that is capable of converting multiple feedstocks including woody biomass, agricultural waste, energy crops and construction/industrial wastes into synthesis gas. The syngas undergoes bacterial fermentation using Coskata's proprietary microorganisms, and is converted into ethanol without using enzymes.

Coskata describes the facility as "minimum-scale engineering," meaning it is the exact size that will allow the company to scale to 50 MMgy and 100 MMgy facilities. The $25 million plant, located 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, is co-located with a pilot-plant gasifier owned and operated by a unit of Calgary, Alberta's Alter NRG Corp.

GM will use the ethanol produced at the facility for testing in flexible-fuel vehicles at its Milford, Mich., proving grounds.