English EN Filipino TL Français FR Deutsch DE Italiano IT Português PT Русский RU Español ES
The desire to replace fossil fuels with wood in the manufacture of everything from liquid fuels to chemicals to plastics to electricity is driving a massive new demand for trees.  This is being met through the destruction of native forests, the expansion of industrial timber plantations of usually non-native and destructive trees and in the future industry hopes to meet this demand with trees genetically engineered for their specific end use.  GE trees will be socially and ecologically disastrous.
To sign the petition against the development of GE eualyptus plantations in the Southern U.S. click here.–The GJEP Team
Cross-posted from the New York Times Green Blog

The Energy Department has offered a Texas company a loan guarantee for a $1 billion project to build four small factories that would turn wood chips into an oil substitute.

The loan guarantee, if finalized, would be about four times larger than any previous guarantee for biofuels. Its aim is to spur industrial-scale production of substitutes for gasoline and diesel from renewable sources beyond food crops like corn and sugar, a goal that many companies are chasing but none has yet achieved.

Federal law provides a quota for such fuels, which are meant to reduce both oil imports and carbon dioxide emissions, but for the last two years the Environmental Protection Agency has had to cut the quotas for lack of commercial production.

KiOR, based in Pasadena, Tex., said Wednesday that it has received a “term sheet,” or contract laying out terms for a loan, for two plants that it wants to build in Mississippi, and one each in Texas and Georgia. A company spokesman said KiOR would enter negotiations with the Energy Department on the details.

The company is already working on a small commercial plant in Columbus, Miss., using $50 million borrowed from the state. It has had a small pilot plant operating in Pasadena, Tex., since 2009 and a larger demonstration plant since 2010.

Each of the four plants would produce a synthetic crude oil the company calls “Re-crude,” and one of them would convert that to materials that could be blended directly into gasoline and diesel fuel.

KiOR’s process heats wood chips in a chamber with a controlled amount of oxygen and catalysts to produce a liquid and gases that can be turned into fuel. Several companies have pilot-scale plants that turn wood chips into liquid fuels of various kinds, but none has yet reached the point of industrial-scale production at an acceptable price.

The exact size of the loan guarantee is still under negotiation, but it may be as high as $1 billion. If that is the case, it would be “definitely the largest I’ve ever heard in the bioenergy space, by fourfold,’’ said Nathaniel Greene, a bioenergy expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

In January, the federal government announced it would make loan guarantees totaling $571 million to three companies that would produce fuel from waste.

Coskata, a start-up with backing from General Motors, was offered $250 million by the Agriculture Department to help with a plant that would make ethanol.

The Agriculture Department offered Enerkem, of Montreal, a guarantee on an $80 million loan for a plant that would make ethanol from garbage. Enerkem also received an Energy Department grant of $50 million.

The Energy Department also awarded a loan guarantee of $241 million to Diamond Green Diesel, of Norco, La., which will make fuel from animal fats and used cooking oil.