Range Fuels get $130m investment for cellulosic ethanol

The flow of cash into cellulosic ethanol is accelerating with Range Fuels being the latest start-up to get an infusion. The Broomfield, Colo. company has received a $130 million round of venture funding. Most of the money will be used for construction of a waste wood to ethanol production facility in Soperton, GA. This follows an investment earlier this year by General Motors in Illinois-based Coskata.

The Range Fuels process uses a thermo-chemical reaction with heat, pressure and steam to produce a syngas from cellulosic biomass. The syngas is then converted to an alcohol blend by passing it over a proprietary catalyst. The alcohol blend is then processed to isolate the ethanol. Range Fuels claims a high energy in to ethanol ratio for their process. Unlike some competing processes, this one doesn't rely on any enzymes to break down the cellulose into simpler sugars. It's not known how the process compares to some others, but investor Vinod Khosla estimates the Range Fuels process will come in at about $1.25/gallon. The investors in this latest funding round include Passport Capital LLC, Blue Mountain Venture Capital LLC, Morgan Stanley and Pacific Capital Group and Khosla Ventures. Khosla is also an investor in Coskata.

[Source: Wall Street Journal - Sub. req'd]

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