What if we could quickly and cheaply make ethanol using any cellulosic feedstock, including wood chips and construction waste? That’s exactly what Coskata claims it can do with its new semi-commercial flex ethanol facility, launched last week in Madison, Pennsylvania.
The company, backed financially by an unspecified amount of cash from GM, claims that its modular facility is the first commercially viable, flex feedstock ethanol facility to be built. The plant practically churns out on-demand ethanol–it only a few minutes for the facility to turn feedstock into the substance.
Coskata’s plant has big commercial implications. The company claims that its cellulosic ethanol will be cheaper than petroleum (no word on how much cheaper), and that the fuel cuts greenhouse gases by 96% and uses half as much water as standard gasoline. And since GM wants more than half of its cars to be E-85 capable by 2012, Coskata already has a major built-in customer–no surprise, then, that GM is backing the company along with cellulosic ethanol start-up Mascoma.
Now that Coskata has unveiled its pilot plant, the ethanol-maker wants to license its technology to other companies and maybe even expand to other countries.