September 9, 2008
Range Fuels to Explore Herbaceous Energy Crops With Leading Developer of Biomass Feedstocks
Range Fuels, Inc., a company focused on green energy and the production of cellulosic ethanol, announced today that it is collaborating with Ceres, Inc., the leading company in the research, development and commercialization of purpose-grown herbaceous biomass feedstocks. Range Fuels will explore the role that non-invasive, high-yield, non-food sources of biomass might play in Range Fuels' plans to produce cellulosic ethanol on a commercial basis. Ceres is primarily focused on the development of annual and perennial grasses, such as high-biomass sorghum, switchgrass and miscanthus.
"Range Fuels is interested in pursuing non-invasive, non-food, high-yield, and minimal impact biomass feedstocks for use in our cellulosic ethanol plants. Our relationship with Ceres will enhance our ability to meaningfully explore these interests, plus it will leverage Range Fuels' continuing efforts to improve our operating cost structure," said Mitch Mandich, Range Fuels' CEO. "Understanding how we might use a variety of purpose-grown biomass feedstocks in our conversion process will be especially meaningful since our proprietary K2 system, the thermo-chemical conversion process being applied at our Soperton, Georgia plant, has the capability to process a variety of biomass feedstocks."
Last spring, Range Fuels established demonstration plots of commercial varieties of switchgrass and high-biomass sorghum at its Soperton Plant site near Soperton, Georgia with seeds and agronomy support from Ceres and cooperation of a local farmer. The plots are meant to demonstrate that select high-yield, low-impact biomass feedstocks can be successfully established and grown around the Soperton area. As well, this effort will help Range Fuels understand the economic, environmental and logistical issues surrounding the planting, management, harvesting, storage and transportation of purpose-grown energy biomass feedstocks.
Ceres President and CEO Richard Hamilton noted that Ceres' collaboration with Range Fuels will provide a real-world setting to show how different crops can contribute to the feedstock needs of a commercial-scale biorefinery. "As the industry reaches greater scale," Hamilton said, "non-food, low-carbon energy crops - with high yields and the opportunity to optimize the composition of the biomass - can provide numerous benefits. Higher yields significantly reduce harvest and delivery costs. We can also optimize the composition of biomass through plant breeding and biotechnology, so we not only maximize tons per acre, but also reduce conversion costs." He further noted that high per-acre yields will allow the cellulosic ethanol industry to reach greater volumes while minimizing its environmental footprint.
About Range Fuels, Inc.
Range Fuels, Inc. is focused on green energy and the production of cellulosic ethanol using plant matter (or biomass) that cannot be used for food, is sustainable, renewable and abundant. The company's innovative technology converts renewable and sustainable biomass, such as wood chips, paper pulp, olive pits, and more, to ethanol. The company's proprietary K2 system uses a two-step thermo-chemical conversion process. The first step converts the biomass to synthesis gas and the second step converts the gas to ethanol. The company's business model is to design, build, own and operate its plants. The leadership team melds experience from Silicon Valley's fast-paced, high-tech world, and the technologically intensive coal, coal gasification, power, and gas-to-liquids industries, the renewable fuel industry, and the pulp and paper industry. Range Fuels' vision is to introduce the world to a fuel that's renewable, sustainable, and eco-friendly.
Based in Thousand Oaks, California, Ceres, Inc. (www.ceres.net) is a leading developer of high-yielding energy crops that can be planted as feedstocks for cellulosic ethanol production and biopower. Its development efforts cover switchgrass, sorghum, miscanthus, energycane and short-rotation woody crops. The plant breeding and biotechnology company markets its seed products under its Blade Energy Crops brand. Ceres holds one of the world's largest proprietary collections of fully sequenced plant genes. The privately held firm also licenses its technology and traits to other organizations.