Terrabon files for bankruptcy

By Erin Voegele | September 10, 2012

Houston-based Terrabon Inc. has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Under Chapter 7 proceedings, the company’s operations will cease and a trustee will be tasked with liquidating the company’s assets for the benefit of creditors. The bankruptcy has resulted in lay-offs affecting approximately 60 full-time employees. 

"It is with great disappointment we announce Terrabon has been unable to obtain additional financing and must suspend operations,” said Gary Luce, CEO of Terrabon in a statement. “This is a sad day for Terrabon’s employees, partners, suppliers and vendors who never wavered from their robust support of our company and the technology we deeply believe in. We want to thank them and convey how deeply we appreciate their steadfast loyalty during our journey to become an additional source of alternative energy for the United States."

The company’s MixAlco technology is designed to convert biomass into drop-in transportation fuels, including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. According to information released by Terrabon, the company was unable to obtain sufficient corporate funding to finish the development and engineering activities related to its proposed commercial-scale facility.

Terrabon was planning to construct a 5 MMgy commercial scale plant. Prior announcements made by the company noted that it expected to break ground on that facility this year.  The company began operating 150,000 gallon-per-year demonstration plant in 2009.

Terrabon was founded in 1995. Over the years, a variety of strategic partners has signed on to support the development of its projects, including Waste Management Inc., Valero Energy Corp., the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, Texas Systems & Controls, CRI Catalyst Co. and Logos Technologies Inc.

In April 2009 Terrabon announced it closed its first installment of equity financing with Valero to accelerate development of biobased gasoline from municipal solid waste (MSW). At that time, the company said the financing would be used to accelerate the commercial deployment of its unique acid fermentation technology that convers readily available, low-cost biomass into chemicals that can be processed into renewable gasoline. A few months later, in July 2009, the Terrabon announced that its MixAlco technology successfully created biobased gasoline. The next month, Terrabon announced that Waste Management had invested in its technology and was also assisting with feedstock procurement. In early 2010, the company announced that it has successfully produced economical cellulosic gasoline by leveraging CRI/Criterion Inc.’s renewable fuel catalyst technologies. Later in the year Terrabon announced it received a $2.75 million grant from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. The last major operational announcement made by the company was released in July 2011, when it announced it had been awarded a $9.6 million, 18-month contract by Logos Technologies to design a more economical and renewable jet fuel production solution for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.