General Motors has announced that it will partner with Coskata Inc. of
Warrenville, Illinois, a start-up company that claims to have developed
and patented an entirely new way to make ethanol at a cost of less than
$1 per gallon.
Coskata is a privately held company that has developed a
patented method of producing cellulosic ethanol from bacteria using its
bioreactors. The company claims that it can produce larger amounts of
fuel at a lower cost than with other competing methods. It says the
process doesn’t require corn or other food products, but rather uses
farm wastes, household trash and even prairie grass. Coskata also claims
it can convert old tires into ethanol for less than $1 per gallon.
General Motors, which now has a minority stake in the firm and will test
the company’s ethanol products, will also provide technical expertise
to the firm.
Coskata plans to launch its first manufacturing plant later
this year, with a capacity to produce 40,000 gallons per year of
ethanol. According to an analysis by the Argonne National Laboratory of
Koskata’s process, for every unit of energy used in the process, it
generates up to 7.7 times that amount of energy, and it reduces carbon
dioxide emissions by up to 84 percent compared with gasoline.