• Aug 17th 2011 at 12:58PM
  • 6
Remember that cellulosic ethanol deal between GM and Coskata? Or the one between GM and Mascoma? Those are a couple years old at this point and haven't exactly set the ethanol markets on fire, but that doesn't mean that the idea of an automaker and a next-gen biofuel company working together isn't passé. Want proof? See a new announcement from Chrysler and ZeaChem to accelerate the development of cellulosic ethanol and spiff up the automaker's green credentials.

The two firms signed a memorandum of understanding to "strengthen the credibility" of ethanol made from non-food sources. Terms of the deal call for Chrysler to push the case for cellulosic ethanol with regulators, while ZeaChem will focus on refining its process that uses microbes to convert woody biomass into ethanol. There also seems to be a possibility that Chrysler will buy cellulosic ethanol from ZeaChem.

ZeaChem is currently constructing a demonstration facility in Oregon. ZeaChem says that, beginning this fall, the site will convert wood chips and wheat straw into ethanol. ZeaChem's grand plan is to secure government funding for the construction of commercial-scale facility in Oregon. That's where Chrysler's connections come in to play.
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Chrysler Group LLC and ZeaChem Inc. Announce Memorandum of Understanding to Speed Production and Use of Advanced Cellulosic Ethanol

Strategic Alliance Will Use Non-Food Feedstocks for Production of Sustainable and Economical Alternative Fuels

LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- Chrysler Group LLC and ZeaChem Inc. today announced they have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU initiates the formation of a strategic alliance to accelerate the development and market adoption of advanced cellulosic ethanol by bringing together a leading global auto manufacturer and an innovative bio-based fuels and chemicals production company.

The primary alliance goals are to strengthen the credibility among regulators and American consumers of cellulosic ethanol as a cost-effective green transportation alternative; move away from the "food for fuel debate;" provide a leadership role to bring cellulosic ethanol through the production value chain to the consumer market; and build awareness of the potential environmental advantages of high yield, low carbon cellulosic ethanol.

"Chrysler Group has long been committed to promoting the consumption of alternative fuels and to delivering flex-fuel vehicles to our customers," said Reg Modlin, director, regulatory affairs, Chrysler Group LLC.

"ZeaChem is at the forefront of advanced cellulosic ethanol production," said Jim Imbler, president and chief executive officer of ZeaChem. "Our process delivers a 40 percent higher yield in ethanol from non-food cellulosic feedstocks. Through strategic alliances we can fast-track the large-scale production of cellulosic ethanol. We look forward to collaborating with Chrysler Group to achieve our mutual goals and bring sustainable advanced cellulosic ethanol to consumers' vehicles."

About ZeaChem Inc.

ZeaChem Inc. has developed a cellulose-based biorefinery platform capable of producing advanced fuels and intermediate chemicals. ZeaChem's indirect approach leapfrogs the yield and carbon dioxide (CO2) problems associated with traditional and cellulosic based biorefinery processes. In addition, ZeaChem has a significant capital cost advantage compared to other cellulosic technologies. By efficiently extracting the most energy possible from biomass feedstocks, ZeaChem significantly increases output while reducing both production costs and environmental impacts. Incorporated in 2002, ZeaChem is headquartered in Lakewood, Colo. and operates a research and development laboratory facility in Menlo Park, Calif.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Here's an idea; why don't we take all those wood chips and wheat straw and burn them in a power plant in place of natural gas. Then we can take the natural gas not burned in the power plant and use it to power Chrysler vehicles. Conbrio
      • 4 Years Ago
      It'd be nice if they were to actually toy know, go into production. What's happenning to food prices as a result of our current strategy is an economic pile of crap.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The next part is where they discover (if they don't already know), that it costs more in labor and energy to ship the wood chips and wheat straw to the conversion plant than the resulting ethanol is worth. That's why no one wastes their time on this nonsense without serious government subsidies to prop them up financially. > ZeaChem's grand plan is to secure government funding for the construction of > commercial-scale facility in Oregon. That's where Chrysler's connections come in to play. It seems like Chrysler is doing more economic damage to the country under the control of the government than it would if it had been allowed to go bankrupt.
      Robb Lincoln
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is to hedge their bets. Chrysler might need to be able to use bio-fuel credits to achieve new EPA economy. No shame in that.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Chrysler has been long committed to out dated technology and will do anything to keep from changing antiquated inefficient drive trains. They could be innovative and begin building vehicles that result in 7 times more efficiency when converting mechanical motion into forward motion but they figure they have enough ignorant people to keep them in business until the next bail out.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wonder how this benefits Chrysler. A random NHTSA page says "The CAFE incentives available to manufacturers for selling vehicles capable of operating on alternative fuels have led to sales of more than one million E85 flexible-fuel vehicles (FFV) through the 2000 model year. ... The CAFE credit incentive may be viewed as an incentive for this infant industry to produce large quantities of cellulosic ethanol, which could result in large reductions in petroleum use and adverse greenhouse gas emissions."
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