Range Fuels produces cellulosic methanol

By Holly Jessen | July 15, 2010
Posted Aug. 19, 2010

Range Fuels Inc. is one step closer to producing cellulosic ethanol at its Soperton, Ga., plant. The company announced Aug. 17 that it had completed an initial phase of production by producing cellulosic methanol, which is expected to be followed by ethanol production in the third quarter.

"The reason for starting up on methanol and then following with ethanol production is that the methanol catalyst is not as costly," David Aldous, Range Fuels' president and CEO told EPM. "So if we had any issues with the production of syngas we wouldn't end up destroying any expensive catalysts associated with the production of ethanol."

The methanol produced will be used to produce biodiesel, the company said. In the beginning, the woody biomass from nearby timber operations will be the main feedstock at the plant. However, Range Fuels also plans to experiment with other feedstocks, such as miscanthus and switchgrass. "With the first U.S. commercial production of cellulosic biofuels from non-food biomass, Range Fuels has taken a giant step in delivering on its vision of offering solutions to the pressing global challenges of energy independence, the environment, and the economy," Aldous said.

Construction to expand the plant to 60 MMgy of cellulosic biofuels is expected to begin next summer. The plant is permitted to produce a total of 100 MMgy of methanol and ethanol.