Department of Energy awards grant
$76 million given to build commercial cellulosic ethanol plant
Range Fuels announced that the United States Department of Energy (DOE) awarded the company up to $76 million to build the first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in the United States.
The plant will produce ethanol from wood chips from unmerchanteable Georgia pine trees and forest residues. The plant will be located in Soperton, Georgia.
The grant was awarded to Range Fuels, which was founded by Menlo Park, California-based Khosla Ventures, following a rigorous competitive process that included a detailed technology review, an assessment of the availability of renewable and sustainable cellulosic feedstock, and an evaluation of Range Fuels’ ability to successfully commercialize and replicate the project at other locations.
While most domestic ethanol production requires corn as a feedstock, Range Fuels’ proprietary process does not. The Department of Energy grant specifically required the use of non-food feedstocks. The company’s innovative technology transforms otherwise useless products such as wood chips, agricultural wastes, grasses, cornstalks and more into ethanol through a thermo-chemical conversion process. The company’s system, K2, uses a two step process to convert the feedstock to a synthesis gas using heat, pressure and steam, then converts the gas to ethanol using a catalysis process.
The K2 system is modular, providing easy adaptation to a wide variety of situations. The systems can be located near the feed source reducing transportation costs to the plant. Georgia’s forests can produce close to two billion gallons of ethanol a year from wood waste material on a renewable and sustainable basis and the company envisions plants throughout Georgia.