Xethanol forms new entity, reveals out build-out plan

By | April 01, 2006
New York City-based Xethanol Corp., a publicly traded ethanol company that owns a commercial-scale ethanol plant in Blairstown, Iowa, and has big plans for lignocellulosic ethanol, announced the formation of CoastalXethanol LLC, Xethanol's new subsidiary company soon to be hosting the execution of its cellulose conversion technologies in the forested Southeast.

The new company's working relationships to build eight to 12 cellulosic ethanol plants using Xethanol's technologies are mostly in place: the Harris Group is contracted to provide engineering services; there's an ongoing Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with U.S. Forest Products; R&D work with Virginia Tech; and ongoing R&D at NREL, which Xethanol's CEO and Chairman Christopher d'Arnaud-Taylor hopes to reinforce into a CRADA—especially since President George W. Bush's recent push for increased U.S. DOE funding to demonstrate cellulose conversion technologies.

That's why CoastalXethanol is scouring the Georgia area for brownfield sites, from Jacksonville, Fla., to Charleston, S.C. "Most forest product industries are prolific down there," d'Arnaud-Taylor said, referring to the abundance of woody waste materials available as feedstock. He said he couldn't talk about CoastalXethanol's biomass procurement agreements, which are still under negotiation and therefore confidential.

The combined capacity of these eight to 12 cellulosic ethanol plants is expected to reach 140 MMgy, d'Arnaud-Taylor told EPM. He couldn't say when ground would be broken on the first plant, but he did say negotiations are underway for two particular sites in the Southeast and one more site in New Jersey for its corporate parent Xethanol. "We're looking at existing facilities with all the hookups, so to speak," d'Arnaud-Taylor said.

CoastalXethanol plans to have one or two plants producing cellulosic ethanol and xylitol, a sweetener. Most of the eight to 12 plants will solely produce ethanol from woody biomass—and lignin, of course—with ongoing research into higher value chemicals. "We're also in negotiations with a gasification technology company to gasify the lignin," d'Arnaud-Taylor said.