MIAMI, FL --- Biofuels Digest has placed cellulosic ethanol pioneer Coskata at the top of the publication's "50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy" rankings for 2008-09.

According to Coskata, the company's process reduces carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 84 percent when input materials such as grass, agricultural waste or woodchips are used. The Coskata process has no back-end solid waste to dry and handle like enzymatic approaches, and water and wastewater treatment requirements are low because of significant water recycle and energy conservation.

The Coskata process also uses less than one gallon of fresh water per gallon of ethanol produced, versus three to five for corn, and as much as seven gallons of water per gallon of ethanol for enzymatic routes. Coskata's process can produce up to 7.7 times more energy than what is used in making the ethanol. Corn-derived ethanol produces approximately 1.3 times the energy required, Coskata said. 

In April, Coskata announced plans to produce 40,000 gallons of cellulosic ethanol a year at a commercial demonstration plant near Pittsburgh. The $25 million project will be located at the Westinghouse Plasma Center, the current site of a pilot-plant gasifier owned and operated by Westinghouse Plasma Corp. 

"Coskata has been eager to reach this milestone, because it will be a significant demonstration before building our first commercial plant that we can produce ethanol from non-food based sources for less than $1 a gallon," said Bill Roe, president and CEO of Coskata. "This facility is being built with some of the leading gasification technology, supplied by Alter NRG, and in one of the most progressive states for next-generation ethanol."

Algae-to-energy company Sapphire Energy captured the #2 position in Biofuels Digest'slist, while Virent Energy took the #3 position. The annual list recognizes innovation and achievement in bioenergy development.

POET, Range Fuels, Solazyme, Amyris Technologies, Mascoma, DuPont Danisco and UOP completed the top ten.

Biofuels Digest noted that among the top 50, 17 are active in cellulosic ethanol development, nine are developing algae-to-energy systems, and nine are producing other advanced biofuels or waste-to-energy technologies. The companies range from start-ups, funded by venture capital and corporate investors, to new divisions of established companies such as DuPont, Genencor and Honeywell.

Biofuels Digest panel established the rankings, based on each company's research or production progress in 2008. "Innovation in renewable energy is gaining speed," said Jim Lane, editor and publisher of Biofuels Digest. "A slew of advanced bioenergy systems are coming to market from some of the brightest biologists, chemists, agronomists and engineers in the world."