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Trash-To-Fuel: GM Invests In Another Bio-Fuel Company

Posted by: David Kiley on May 1, 2008

GM says it is investing in a company that makes ethanol economically out of nonfood plant matter.

The investment in Boston-based Mascoma comes at a time when the whole ethanol industry, as well as the U.S. government, is under fire for pushing ethanol too fast when it can only be made from corn on a mass scale. That policy has helped drive up the cost of corn, as well as food, and helped, many argue, drive food shortages in developing countries.

GM President Fritz Henderson said the investment in the company is because of its “best-in-class microorganisms and enzymes could lead a transformation to a new era of biofuels.”

Earlier this year, GM inked a deal with Coskata Inc., of suburban Chicago. Coskata is building an ethanol plant in Pennsylvania.

Companies like Mascoma and Coskata are pursuing ways too break down cellulose, as well as certain kinds of trash, to convert it to bio-fuel.

In the case of Mascoma, the company says its thermochemical process will work with many kinds of plant matter, including wood chips, switch grass and farm waste.

Mascoma plans to complete a pilot plant near Rome, N.Y., which will produce 200,000 gallons a year of ethanol. The plant will use paper mill sludge as its raw material. But it will be able to convert other materials to motor fuel.

Reader Comments


May 1, 2008 5:40 PM

So will the 51 cent subsidy still apply? Will we still be keeping Brazilian ethanol out with our tariff? ? And what about the shipping of ethanol? How does it get from point A to point B for the farcical E85 fraud?? Still by truck, train, or barge? How about its 30% less energy and the resulting loss in mileage with no reduction in CO2?

In short, GM is just chasing another of its sagging ratty tails and hoping for the best. Pretty typical however dumb.

Ethanol has no future other than as a attitude adjusting tool sold as vodka, whiskey, whatever. Hydrogen is just about as far out there, or more, in practical terms. And while I hate to see this, so are lighter weight far more economical motor vehicles. Politics, pure and simple. This as long as there remain the mini/micro-minded morons who use them for 'fun' rather than transportation.

As the cover of the massive scam that is ethanol is peeled away like pieces of onion, we are looking even worse in the eyes of the world for our very significant role in the rising cost of basic feeds/foods/fuels. And deservedly so. It is not just our sloppy thinking/acting obese who need trimming down, but Congress needs tossing out. It is killing us at an ever increasing rate. And yes, the majority of dolts who make up the ignorant/selfish electorate will just elect more of the same--but for their lack of 'experience'. I rather expect that beginners would out perform what we have now with ease for a maximum of four years.


May 2, 2008 5:28 AM

When crude is at $120/barrel due to oil speculators, and gas prices above $4/gal causing the proletariats to pay thru the nose, you can sense their heavy breathing and muscle tensing for some pillaging and lynching. What's a future commodity speculator and oil producers to do? Let's get out the spin-doctors and nurses to blame those corn farmers and the government's policy makers. Did anyone ask whether speculators of corn future are energized by the frenzy feeding of the speculators of crude oil futures? With fermentation ethanol, corn is now in direct competition with crude, driving crude prices downward. If crude futures has speculators driving up oil prices so too there will be speculators for corn, soybean,milk,gold,or porkbelly, etc? The facts is that global food prices are headed higher because modern farming technique as practiced all over the world depends heavily on expensive oil-based fertilizers. It's the higher price of oil-based fertilizer that is the cause of high food prices that lead to food shortages. Oil speculators, not the ethanol producers, is the culprit. The biggest ethanol maker in the world is Brazil. For nearly 10 years almost all of Brazil's cars run on E85 and nobody blaming its farmers for causing global food shortages during that time. Brazil even export surplus ethanol(except to USA because of high tariff), suger, orange juice, etc. The fact is this: Someone is profitting from this dis-information campaign. It appears there is no shortage of spin-doctors and nurses from Madison Avenue paid handsomely by you know who.


May 2, 2008 5:16 PM

As far as America is concerned, my thinking is that we can put this entire flap in the laps of Congress. Period. One bad decision after another for some 20 years now has lead us to where we are. All the rest, even the loathsome activities of the low-life speculators came as a result. The door was opened and in they came like the pack of rats they are.

And now the contagion is well beyond our shores, not to mention beyond our control. Again it is our 'experienced' elected representatives who are to blame. Traitor Al Gore is one of the leaders who sunk the arrow even deeper with his banning of anything nuclear. This is our sole means out of the energy mess, and as I have mentioned before, we only need to look to France and Japan, Israel, and even wimpy Jolly Olde to see how so-called 'nuclear waste' is a myth, safety is a sure thing, and economical operation is assured--this all being largely our very own technology. Before Gore, as Energy Czar, had it scrapped.


May 12, 2008 4:06 PM

GM is making a smart hedge to it's fuel cell bet. They make hybrid cars and trucks, they finance ethanol R&D to make the production more efficient, they will soon produce plug-in electric cars, and are doing everything they can to get away from Big Oil. As ethanol prices go up, the company will profit, offsetting rising retirement costs. You will either need aftermarket parts to convert your car, or you will need a new car to benefit from non-petrol fuels, and GM is positioning itself to benefit from the conversion. Now if only Ford was that smart.

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