Sugar cane photo by 91RS. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.

The two ethanol companies that GM has invested in, Coskata and Mascoma, must be making the automaker proud and frustrated this week, as they have very different news to report. Coskata's got some potentially good news: U.S. Sugar might be the next to try and commercialize the plasma/gassification ethanol production process with a plant in Florida. The Florida plant makes sense for U.S. Sugar because the company can use leftover sugar cane material to make the biofuel and because Florida has set its own ethanol mandate. Coskata already has a pilot plant agreement with the Westinghouse Plasma Center and another commercial partner in ICM.

Meanwhile, over at Mascoma, the news is a bit less positive: CNET is reporting that the company is "shedding staff," which in a small company like Mascoma means between 5 and 10 positions are now history.

[Source: Coskata, CNET]


U.S. Sugar to explore building 100 Million gallon Coskata ethanol facility

CLEWISTON, FL - November 17, 2008 -U.S. Sugar Corp. today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Coskata, Inc of Warrenville, IL to explore building a 100 million gallon per year cellulosic ethanol facility in Clewiston, Florida. The facility would be the world's largest second generation ethanol facility. It would convert left-over sugar cane material into ethanol, and would help Florida meet its aggressive second generation ethanol mandate set by Governor Charlie Crist.

"We are very excited to be formally negotiating with Coskata to deploy their industry leading conversion technology," said U.S. Sugar's Sr. Vice President of Public Affairs Robert Coker. "We see this technology as a perfect complement to our existing sugar mill, not to mention a win for the environment, the farming community and for our employees.

The non-food based ethanol could reduce greenhouse gasses by as much as 96% versus conventional gasoline. U.S. Sugar plans to collect cane leaves from the field versus burning them, as well as utilize excess bagasse from the mill. The Coskata technology, which is able to convert almost any renewable material, is expected to produce fuel ethanol with manufacturing costs of around $1 per gallon. As the State of Florida takes some of the US Sugar lands out of production for the Everglades restoration project, the Coskata technology is flexible enough to also use fast growing energy crops and waste materials to make the environmentally superior fuel.

As part of the agreement, U.S. Sugar will be submitting an application to the Florida Energy Office for a financial match to their contribution for early engineering on this project. In addition, US Sugar plans to work with the US Department of Agriculture to secure some of the loan guarantee monies that have been set aside specifically for the production of non-food based biofuels.

About U.S. Sugar

Founded in 1931, United States Sugar Corporation is one of America's premier privately held agribusiness companies. The Company is the country's largest producer of sugar cane and refined cane sugar and is one of Florida's major producers of oranges and orange juice products. With state-of-the-art technology for both sugar manufacturing and citrus processing, U.S. Sugar practices the most efficient and progressive farming techniques available in the world. In addition to its principal businesses of sugar and citrus, U.S. Sugar also owns a short line railroad, the South Central Florida Express.

About Coskata

Coskata is a biology-based renewable energy company that is commercializing technology to produce biofuels from a wide variety of feedstocks. Using proprietary microorganisms and transformative bioreactor designs, the company will produce ethanol for under US$1.00 per gallon almost anywhere in the world. Founded in 2006 by leading renewable energy investors and entrepreneurs, including Khosla Ventures, Advanced Technology Ventures, and GreatPoint Ventures, Coskata has compiled a strong IP portfolio of patents, trade secrets, know-how and assembled a first-class team for the development and commercialization of its compelling syngas-to-ethanol process technology. For more information, please visit

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