Saturday, January 15, 2011

2011 Detroit Auto Show Goes Green

The Auto Show opens today to the public. While a lot of the buzz has been directed at the new electric vehicles, MEDC has set up a display that focuses on the "four industries it believes will continue to grow in our state: wind energy, advanced battery, solar and bio energy", and featured is a company we have heard from before...

The biogas project is leading the way in a new form of alternative energy for cars and trucks. It's starting to lead the way in Michigan's green sector.

"It's a dual fuel, so you can run liquid petroleum or the bio methane," said Tom Guise, CEO of Swedish Biogas International.

The Swedish Biogas International Co. -- in conjunction with Flint's Kettering University -- is showing off a Chevy truck that has been converted to run on biomethane, which will be produced at the bio-gas plant in Flint Township.

"For city vehicles and things that don't leave the community, you can run them all on biomethane," Guise said. "That's what they do in Sweden. The buses and garbage trucks run on biomethane to save the cost of having a dual-fuel vehicle."

The bio industry has been growing in fits and starts, moving away from food stocks and looking at alternative sources. We got some more good news this week when it was annouced that the Valero company is going to purchase all of the estimated 40 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol production from the refinery that Mascoma is going to build in the UP. Mascoma will produce ethanol from wood pulp and other scrap lumber stock.

Valero will invest up to $50 million in the Kinross plant, said William J. Brady, Mascoma’s chief executive. The entire plant would cost $350 million, and not all of that is in hand yet, Mr. Brady said, but “getting the Valero investment has made the rest a lot easier.’’

Other investors in Mascoma include General Motors. Mascoma is seeking loan guarantees from the Energy Department.

The company, which planned to use wood waste, could turn out to have the first commercial-scale plant. Mr. Brady said that three other companies could also produce ethanol from cellulose in the near future: BlueFire Ethanol, which uses grasses; POET, which is turning to cobs and other nonfood portions of the corn plant; and Abengoa, which is turning to parts of the corn plant beyond the kernel.

Good to see that Kinross is back on track - they were supposed to open in 2008, but of course hit the same bump in the road that we all did. Now to get the feds to move on the loans.... (and what's up with Wixom, anyway?)