KiOR ships first cellulosic diesel volumes from Miss. biorefinery

By Ron Kotrba | March 18, 2013

KiOR Inc. announced initial shipments of cellulosic diesel from its first commercial-scale facility in Columbus, Miss., where the company uses pine wood chips that previously fed a now-defunct paper mill to produce cellulosic gasoline and diesel fuels. The $213 million facility is scaled to process 500 bone dry tons of sustainably harvested woody biomass per day. It can produce more than 13 million gallons of gasoline, diesel and fuel oil blendstocks annually.

KiOR's renewable gasoline is also the first renewable cellulosic gasoline registered by U.S. EPA for sale in the U.S.

Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State and a current member of KiOR's board of directors, said, “KiOR is changing the American energy equation by innovating and commercializing an entirely new generation of hydrocarbon-based diesel and gasoline fuel. By making the promise of cellulosic fuels a reality, KiOR demonstrates that these fuels are an attractive option for lessening America's dependence on foreign sources of energy.”

Haley Barbour, former Governor of Mississippi, who was instrumental in attracting KiOR to Mississippi, said, “The shipment of this first fuel from KiOR's Columbus, Miss., facility is the culmination of a vision to establish Mississippi as the birthplace of the wood-to-fuels production technology. This progress highlights our highly skilled labor force, abundant natural resources and supportive government climate for innovative companies like KiOR seeking a home to expand their businesses. Mississippi has partnered with KiOR throughout this history-making project, contributing economic development support ranging from research and testing projects within our world class universities, to technical training within our superb community college system.”

“This is a major step forward for KiOR, the biofuels industry and the entire renewable fuels sector,” said Fred Cannon, KiOR's president and CEO. “With first production at Columbus, KiOR has technology with the potential to resurrect each and every shut down paper mill in the country and to replace imported oil on a cost-effective basis while creating American jobs. This facility demonstrates the efficacy of KiOR's proprietary catalytic biomass-to-fuel process with the potential to deliver cellulosic gasoline and diesel to the U.S. We are proud to be making history in Mississippi. The technology is simply scalable and we believe sufficient excess feedstock exists in the Southeast alone to build almost 50 KiOR commercial-scale facilities.”

The company plans to build a similar but larger facility in Natchez, Miss., scaled to process three times the woody biomass as the Columbus biorefinery. 



3 Responses

  1. Cliff Claven



    Add Haley Barbour and Condi Rice to your list of people not to trust with your money. KiOR had $40M in the bank at the end of 2012 after losing $29M in that last quarter. The do not produce gasoline or diesel, they produce "refinery blendstock" which in this case consists of benzine, toluene, and xylene, which are the parts of gasoline that the refineries already have to restrict because they are considered toxic carcinogens by the EPA. They lose money on each gallon they provide to their offtake partners and that is why they have only made one sale since commissioning last October and timed it to coincide with their earnings (losses) report on Monday. In the late 90's there was a website dedicated to the deathwatch of all the start-ups that burned through piles of investor cash with nothing to show for it but Aeron chairs and cherry wood office furniture. Somebody needs to restart that website for biofuels. This is the year for cellulosic ethanol to be exposed for the scam it is. Cello was a fraud. Range Fuels is gone without ever producing a drop after taking $156M from US taxpayers and more than $160M from private investors. The CEO of Codexis just quit to work on natural gas at Calysta after spending $400M of Shell's money on something he now admits is impossible. Iogen of Canada just got bought out. Gevo went back to corn. Amyris quit fuels in the US and moved to fish food and cosmetics. The only US firm to ever produce commercial RIN cellulosic ethanol just filed for Chapter 11 (Western Biomass Fuels aka Blue Sugars aka KL Energy). KiOR and INEOS Bio are on the same trajectory to their final reckoning. If our insolvent government ever cuts off farm program and tax credit subsidies, the corn ethanol syndicate of ADM, Cargill, and POET will collapse as well. Algae ponds and bioreactors are great ways to turn greenbacks into green pond scum, but not fuel. The sooner we end this fantasy and get back to reality the better. The huge piles of money and fossil fuel energy poured into biofuels in the name of improving national security is one of the epic ironies of our time.

  2. Will Wiese



    Mr. Kotrba, Thanks for the informative article. I'm looking forward to the time we can buy renewable, sustainable cellulosic biofuels. I have tried to encourage our local economic development board to pursue cellulosic biofuels. In Idaho, we also have wood chips. Mr. Claven, Thanks for the rundown of biofuel development efforts. That shows your interest in the industry, even tho your hopes are fading. I noticed you missed the algea producers like Solazyme and Syntroleum. Both sold ONE fuel shipment to the US Navy. Gevo has had a short run of advanced biofuel in the form of bio-isobutanol. Gevo is modifying their 'commercial' production process, while producing ethanol at their Luverne, MN plant. Their weak link is that in Minnesota it is not legal to sell isobutanol as fuel. Gevo must ship their produced isobutanol out of state to sell as fuel. There are several uses for it in other chemical processes. Making plastic bottles for Coke & Pepsi come to mind. President Kennedy said, "We don't go to the moon because it is easy. We go because it is hard." To me, the dot com bubble drew investments into the computer industry. We now use computers everywhere. These brave biofuel innovators will bring advanced biofuels to the world.

  3. Igogo



    It's not clear from the spread sheet whhteer the co2 emissions associated with ethanol production was taken to account as well as the electricity production cost. Coal is presently the largest source of electricity nationwide, this could be improved in the future, model states, like California already provide much cleaner electricity.I'm troubled by the use of food as a fuel, the increased use of food production land in the corn belt, already suffering a diminishing water supply may result in food shortages in the future, a more serious serious situation than high fuel prices. Future cellulose and waste based ethanol production looks like a more practicable approach.


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