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A little over two years ago, the big news was that automaker General Motors had invested in start-up cellulosic ethanol company Coskata. This week, we learned that a giant from another industry, French oil company Total, has put a lot of money (the total amount was not disclosed) into Coskata, leading a Series C prime funding round. In return, Total gets a seat on Coskata's board. Total has also invested in butanol company Gevo.

Coskata caught our attention back in January 2008 with the announcement that GM would take an equity stake in the cellulosic ethanol producer in an effort to bring the biofuel to market at a cost of just $1 a gallon. Since then, things haven't gone quite as smoothly as Coskata executives might have hoped and deadlines have been missed, but the company is hoping that today's unveiling of a semi-commercial flex ethanol facility will show things are back on track.