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Alternative Fuels Created From Unlikely Sources

January 7, 2010 - 3:46pm

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Innovation is key for ClearFuels Technology and Rentech Inc, partners in the energy field of biomass. Both companies work on projects to produce fuels that aren’t just green but also cost-effective. They’re working together to bring a viable alternative fuel to the marketplace.

The companies have been selected to receive a $22.6 million grant from the Department of Energy. “DOE has recognized the benefits of these two technologies coming together” says Hunt Ramsbottom, CEO of Rentech. 

Hawaii-based ClearFuels has developed a process to turn waste into renewable fuel.  They partner with local wood and sugar mills, collecting the waste left behind like sawdust and bagasse -- the fibrous residue of sugarcane -- for their alternative fuels projects. In California, Rentech is developing a process to turn synthetic gas from materials like tree stumps and branches into transportation fuel.

They will use the grant money to install a biomass gassifier at Rentech’s synthetic fuels facility in Colorado. Combining the companies’ methods of turning waste products into energy, the biomass gasifier will convert 7 to 20 tons of biomass a day into 420 gallons of renewable, clean fuel.  The CEO’s say they’re hiring 40 employees to begin the first phase of the project and more in the future. 

Both companies are confident in their ability to revitalize the current energy market as Eric Darmstaedter, CEO of ClearFuels says, “The funding helps us create a new industry and new jobs.”

Eric estimates they will be ready to start production in late 2011.

Editor's note: This story was updated on July 7, 2010 to include the revised production start date.

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