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Ethanol

General Motors Invests in Alternative Fuel Startup that Makes Ethanol from Waste Products

Sunday, August 03, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: ethanol, health news, Natural News


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(NaturalNews) General Motors (GM) has invested in a startup company dedicated to the production of ethanol from waste products, chief executive officer (CEO) Rick Wagoner announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Wagoner said that GM has purchased an equity stake in Coskata, a company that aims to synthesize ethanol from crop waste, scrap plastic, rubber, wood chips and even regular garbage. He did not say how big a stake the company had purchased.

GM has already invested in the production of so-called "flex-fuel" vehicles, which are capable of running either on standard gasoline, gasoline with 10 percent ethanol, or an 85-15 ethanol-gasoline mix.

Coskata says that it has already developed a process for producing ethanol from waste, but has yet to link every step in the process into an industrial manufacturing plant. A pilot-scale plan is due to be built in Illinois this year.

The company uses a two-step process, which begins when the feedstock (formerly waste) is cooked into a synthesis gas, which is made from a mix of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. This gas is then processed by means of bacteria that consume synthesis gas and excrete ethanol as a waste product.

According to Coskata, this hybrid process produces 100 gallons of ethanol per ton of raw material, a higher output than any other process, and uses less electricity and natural gas. Other advantages include a much cheaper feedstock than corn, and one that is available all over the country. This availability would allow for the construction of ethanol plants anywhere in the country, eliminating the high costs and logistical problems currently facing ethanol shipment.

According to Coskata CEO William Roe, "Coskata ethanol should be 50 cents to $1 cheaper than gasoline at the pump" once the company has achieved full production. The company expects to achieve this point by the year 2011.

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