Biofuels Demo to be Based in Pennsylvania

Coskata Inc., an innovative company specializing in the development and production of next-generation biofuels from non-food sources, will locate a commercial demonstration production plant in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell announced on April 25.

The governor said the technology represents a promising alternative to conventional fossil fuels that could help meet energy needs without diverting crops, such as corn and soybeans, from the food supply.

"Pennsylvania is a leader in producing alternative fuels," said Rendell. "Coskata's decision to locate this promising and cutting edge facility here was made in part because of our commitment to developing technologies like this and achieving energy independence."

The governor said Pennsylvania stands to be a leader in the development and deployment of cellulosic ethanol technology because the alternative fuel can be produced from biomass materials like switchgrass, crop residues, small diameter trees and agricultural waste—all things that are abundant in the state.

Coskata's demonstration plant will be built in Madison at the Westinghouse Plasma Center, the site of a pilot-plant gasifier that is owned and operated by Westinghouse Plasma Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Alter Nrg Corp. The project cost is estimated at $25 million.

The plant will produce 40,000 gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year that will be used by General Motors to test the auto maker's flex-fuel vehicles at its Milford, Mich., proving grounds. General Motors is a strategic partner and investor in Coskata.

Coskata uses proprietary microorganisms and efficient bioreactor designs in a unique, three-step conversion process that can turn virtually any carbon-based feedstock into ethanol.

The company says its product can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 84 percent compared to conventional gasoline and has the ability to generate nearly eight times as much energy as is required to produce it, according to the Argonne National Labs.

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