BlueFire drops ‘ethanol' from name

By Kris Bevill | July 15, 2010
Posted Aug. 18, 2010

The negative connotations associated with having "ethanol" in its company name got to be too much for BlueFire Ethanol Fuels Inc., said CEO Arnold Klann. The company announced Aug. 17 that it has changed its name to BlueFire Renewables Inc., partly because the former name led investors to believe it was "just a corn-based ethanol company," according to Klann. In fact, the company has never been a corn ethanol company, but has cellulosic facilities in the works and is also capable of using its technology for other fuels, including biodiesel, jet fuel and drop-in replacement fuels.

"I just felt it was best to change the company name to better reflect the fact that we are more than ethanol, and we're doing more now with other companies that are going to ultimately be producing advanced biofuels," Klann said. "Our goal with this name change is to demonstrate the company's potential to vertically integrate our technology into other areas of renewable energy and help us avoid confusion with traditional ethanol producers."

BlueFire is currently providing sugars to Solazyme Inc. for its algal oil process and has the capability to provide sugars to other renewable fuel and chemical companies, as well, according to Klann. "We see ourselves as being a licensor of other people's back-end technologies," he said. "Our company sits in a unique position in that, with our concentrated acid hydrolysis technology, we have an intermediate step of pure sugars. Before those sugars go into [for example] ethanol production, we can take those sugars and put them into biobutanol or biodiesel … whoever's producing a product that the market wants to buy."

Klann said BlueFire Renewables will continue working to complete its commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities while it positions itself to partner with companies commercializing advanced biofuels technologies. BlueFire wanted to break ground at its 3.9 MMgy municipal solid waste-to-ethanol facility in Lancaster, Calif., last year but financing issues prevented that goal from becoming a reality. "While we've been successful in identifying and getting some financing for the project, we're still trying to arrange all of the financing for the Lancaster facility," Klann said. The 19 MMgy green waste-to-ethanol project in Fulton, Miss., has advanced to Phase 2 of the U.S. DOE's loan guarantee process and is so far on track to close financing and being construction by the end of the year.