Invest in Cleantech

Invest in Cleantech

Sunday, January 13, 2008

GM, Coskata Partner In Breakthrough Ethanol Technology

GM, Coskata Partner In Breakthrough Ethanol Technology

Process Makes Ethanol from Renewables Including Trash and Old Tires

DETROIT – 2008-01-13 General Motors (NYSE:GM) announced a partnership Sunday with Coskata Inc. to use the company’s breakthrough technology that affordably and efficiently makes ethanol from practically any renewable source, including garbage, old tires and plant waste.

Coskata, which was formally introduced at GM’s opening press conference at the North American International Auto Show, uses a proprietary process that leverages patented microorganisms and bioreactor designs to produce ethanol for less than $1 a gallon, about half of today’s cost of producing gasoline.

“We are very excited about what this breakthrough will mean to the viability of biofuels and, more importantly, to our ability to reduce dependence on petroleum,” GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said.

Coskata’s process addresses the issues most often raised about grain-based ethanol production.

According to Argonne National Laboratory, which analyzed Coskata’s process, for every unit of energy used, it generates up to 7.7 times that amount of energy, and it reduces CO2 emissions by up to 84 percent compared with a well-to-wheel analysis of gasoline.

Coskata’s process uses less than a gallon of water to make a gallon of ethanol compared to three gallons or more for other processes.

Coskata, based in Warrenville, Ill., can use its technology practically anywhere in the world where a carbon-based feedstock is available.

For GM, this could lead to joint efforts in markets such as China, where growing energy demand and a new energy research center could jumpstart a significant effort into ethanol made from biomass, Wagoner said.

More immediately, GM will receive the first ethanol from Coskata’s pilot plant in the fourth quarter of 2008. The fuel will be used in testing vehicles at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds.

GM is the auto industry leader in offering consumers a choice of flex-fuel cars and trucks that run on E85 – any blend of ethanol and gasoline up to 85 percent ethanol – or gasoline only. GM produces more than 1 million flex-fuel vehicles a year and has 3.5 million on the road globally.

In the U.S., GM has more than 2.5 million FlexFuel vehicles on the road and is committed to making half its production flex-fuel capable by 2012. GM sells 11 E85-capable models this year and will increase that to more than 15 models for the 2009 model year.

GM has worked in partnerships with businesses, university and non-governmental organizations during the past two years to grow the U.S. infrastructure for E85, helping to open 300 fueling stations in 15 states. Helping make the fuel more readily available was the next logical step.

The timing of the GM-Coskata partnership coincides with President Bush’s signing last month of the Energy Independence and Security Act, which calls for a dramatic increase in biofuels – from 7.5 billion gallons in 2012 to 36 billion gallons in 2022. Corn- and other grain-based ethanol are expected to account for up to 15 billion gallons of that new standard with 21 billion gallons coming from cellulosic and biomass sources.

One of the criticisms of cellulosic ethanol is that its development is several years away. Coskata CEO and President Bill Roe said the next generation ethanol is here today.

“We will have our first commercial-scale plant making 50 to 100 million gallons of ethanol running in 2011, and that includes the two years it will take to build the plant,” Roe said. “Success in delivering on our business plan means that we could account for a significant portion of the biomass ethanol mandated in the new Renewable Fuels Standard within 10 years.”

The partnership includes an undisclosed equity stake for GM, joint research and development into emissions technology and investigation into making ethanol from GM facilities’ waste and non-recyclable vehicle parts.

The Coskata partnership builds on a quarter century of GM research into biofuels and is part of GM’s five-fold approach to providing energy alternatives for automobiles. These include continued efforts in making fuel-efficient engines; E85 ethanol; hybrids; electrically driven vehicles and hydrogen fuel cells.

“There is no question in my mind that making ethanol more widely available is absolutely the most effective and environmentally sound solution,” Wagoner said. “And it’s one that can be acted on immediately.”

About GM
General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world’s largest automaker, has been the annual global industry sales leader for 76 years. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 274,000 people around the world. With global headquarters in Detroit, GM manufactures its cars and trucks in 35 countries. In 2006, nearly 9.1 million GM cars and trucks were sold globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, HUMMER, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM’s OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at

About Coskata
Coskata is a biology-based renewable energy company for economies dependent on oil. Using proprietary microorganisms and transformative bioreactor designs, the company will produce ethanol for under $1 per gallon (USD) almost anywhere in the world, from a wide variety of input materials. Founded in 2006 by leading renewable energy investors and entrepreneurs, including Khosla Ventures, GreatPoint Ventures and Advanced Technology Ventures, Coskata has compiled a strong IP portfolio of patents, trade secrets and know-how and assembled a first-class team for the development and commercialization of its compelling syngas-to-ethanol process
technology. For more information, please visit

No comments: