U.S. Department of Energy Awards Range Fuels Up to $76 Million Grant
Date Posted: February 28, 2007
Palo Alto, CA and Broomfield, CO--Range Fuels announced Feb. 28 that the U.S. Department of Energy awarded the company up to $76 million to build the first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in the U.S.
The plant will produce ethanol from wood chips from unmerchanteable Georgia pine trees and forest residues.
The plant will be located in Soperton, GA, approximately 100 miles west of Savannah.
The grant was awarded to Range Fuels, which was founded by Menlo Park, CA-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.
"We are very excited to have earned this grant from the DOE," said Mitch Mandich, Range Fuels' CEO.
"Our technological leadership, Georgia's abundant supply of waste wood material and their great stewardship of their forest lands, combined with our ability to quickly scale to commercial size differentiated us from the competition. We thank the Department of Energy for its confidence in us and look forward to jointly proving that cellulosic ethanol is a reality."
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 2 billion gallons of ethanol a year from wood waste material on a renewable and sustainable basis and the company envisions plants throughout Georgia.
The grant was announced at a press conference hosted by U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman.
"Range Fuels will play a critical role in helping to bring cellulosic ethanol to market, and teaching us how we can produce it in a more cost effective manner," Secretary Bodman said.
"Ultimately, success in producing inexpensive cellulosic ethanol could be the key to eliminating our nation's addiction to oil. By relying on American ingenuity and on American farmers for fuel, we will enhance our nation's energy and economic security."
"We are honored to have received this prestigious award from the DOE and look forward to implementing this breakthrough technology in Georgia and throughout the US," said Vinod Khosla, founder of Range Fuels.
"We are excited to help the President reach his goal offsetting 35 billion gallons of gasoline a year by using alternative fuels. This is a major step forward reducing our country's dependence on oil."
"With this grant from the Department of Energy we will be able to move more swiftly to commercialize our first plant and build others. We are at the forefront of new cellulosic technology that will reduce green house gases, promote energy independence and create jobs.
"The Department of Energy, the state of Georgia, and Range Fuels are on a historic mission to create a future that breaks our dependence on fossil fuels," Mandich added.
For more information, call Tim Turpin at 415-392-8282.