MADISON, PA --- Coskata Inc., a major biofuels developer, said it has successfully started up its semi-commercial flex ethanol facility located in Madison, Pa.  

"We are proud that we have successfully scaled our technology to this significant level," said Bill Roe, president and CEO of Coskata. "This facility is demonstrating that our efficient, affordable and flexible conversion technology is ready for commercialization. The next step is to build full-scale facilities and begin licensing our technology to project developers, project financiers and strategic partners." 

Coskata's flex ethanol facility will be producing ethanol from numerous feedstocks, including wood biomass, agricultural waste, sustainable energy crops, and construction waste. This flexible approach at the Madison facility is enabled by Westinghouse Plasma Corp.'s plasma gasification technology. The feedstock-flexible nature of the Coskata approach also means that facilities can be built anywhere a feedstock can be sourced or delivered.  

Coskata's technology, as demonstrated through Project Lighthouse, will be able to reduce greenhouse gases by as much as 96 percent over conventional gasoline, while using less than half the water that it takes to get a gallon of gasoline, Coskata said.  

The facility is a demonstration of "minimum scale engineering," an industry standard term which means it is the smallest size that will still allow the company to scale directly to 50-million and 100-million-gallon Coskata facilities. Some of the ethanol that is being produced at the facility has been delivered to the General Motors Milford Proving Grounds for early testing, as well as to another major strategic partner. 

"We invested in Coskata so that we could enable the rapid deployment of commercially viable and environmentally sustainable ethanol globally," said Bob Babik, GM vehicle emissions director. "We're proud to say that we have already accepted some of Coskata's ethanol at our Milford facility."   

Globally, General Motors has produced more than 5 million flex-fuel vehicles to date. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 3.5 million GM flex-fuel cars and trucks on the road. For the 2010 model year, there are 17 E85-capable flex-fuel vehicles from the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC brands. GM is on track to make more than half of its vehicle production flex-fuel capable by 2012. 

Coskata employs proprietary microorganisms and bioreactor designs in a three-step conversion process that can turn virtually any carbon-based feedstock into ethanol. The company's biological fermentation technology is ethanol-specific and enzyme independent, contributing to high energy conversion rates and ethanol yields.  

Additionally, the process requires no additional chemicals or pre-treatments, serving to streamline operational costs.