Startup Key

AE Advanced Fuels plant gets needed financing
By Holly Jessen | April 15, 2011

With $3.5 million in financing secured from Third Eye Capital Corp., a 55 MMgy ethanol plant in Keyes, Calif., is ready to restart after standing idle for nearly two years. The company’s aim is to begin producing ethanol in April. “We expect that the plant will follow a typical ramp-up timeline and should reach full capacity by mid-summer,” says Andy Foster, president and chief operating officer of AE Biofuels Inc.’s advanced biofuels division.

AE Advanced Fuels Keyes Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of AE Biofuels, previously received $4.5 million for the repair and retrofit of the facility, which was largely complete in late March. AE Keyes has a lease agreement with Cilion Inc. to operate the plant. “A significant amount of work has taken place to retrofit the plant in order to correct some initial process design issues (valve replacement and repiping),” Foster says. “To date, AE Advanced Fuels has spent over $4 million on repairs and retrofit.”

The company intends to restart the plant using corn as the feedstock and scale up its testing process for its next-generation technology in the second half of the year. “As our process has always anticipated integrating the cellulosic technology at existing corn ethanol plants, corn feedstock will continue to be utilized,” he says. “Additional non-corn feedstocks may include crop wastes such as corn stover, corn cobs and wheat straw.” The company is also in discussion with other California ethanol producers “who have indicated a strong interest in testing and eventually deploying our proprietary technology at their plants.” 

—Holly Jessen