A very important development for the future African energy equation. Not only for improved energy supply but also for mitigation of climate change.
Originally posted on Gigaom:
In the time it takes to scale up the production of advanced biofuels — which use plant waste, not corn, for fuel — numerous web startups could launch, scale and exit. But for those biofuel companies that are still out there, toiling away at the difficult goal of producing next-gen biofuels that are competitive with gasoline at commercial scale, 2013 is proving to be a year of pivotal steps.
On Monday, KiOR (s KIOR), which was largely funded by Khosla Ventures before it went public, announced in its fourth quarter and annual year 2012 earnings that it has now shipped its first cellulosic diesel product from its factory in Columbus, Mississippi. The factory, which could make some 3 to 5 million gallons this year, converts wood chips into a diesel fuel that the company says can be used in current fossil fuel infrastructure.
Last week startup ZeaChem said that it started production of cellulosic chemicals and ethanol at a demonstration factory in Boardman, Oregon, which can produce about 250,000 gallons per year. Late last year, ag giant DuPont started construction on a cellulosic ethanol factory in Nevada, Iowa, which when completed in 2014 could produce 30 million gallons of fuel from corn stalks and leaves. For comparison sake, these are very small volumes in the grand scheme of the fossil fuel industry — the U.S. consumes some hundreds of billions of gallons of gas per year.