KiOR reaches a milestone

July 2, 2013 9:45:22 AM

Nathan Gregory - [email protected]


KiOR officials announced Monday that the Texas-based alternative fuel company's Columbus plant's Biomass Fluid Catalytic Cracking unit recently completed its first uninterrupted 30-day run. 


The company, which converts biomass into renewable crude oil to produce vehicle fuel, also made a shipment of cellulosic gasoline Friday, its second shipment since its first in March. The facility also launched regular shipments of both gasoline and diesel on that day. 


BFCC technology is the primary method KiOR uses to convert the biomass into gasoline and diesel that can be used for cars but reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent compared to fossil fuels, KiOR President and CEO Fred Cannon said. That biomass, which consists of bark, leaves and wood chips, will soon include excess Southern Yellow Pine from recent paper mill closings. That material can be converted into high-value fuel for transportation and create rural jobs and investment in local economies, Cannon stated in an email to The Dispatch Monday. 


"KiOR's BFCC process essentially accelerates nature's process for making hydrocarbons - in seconds rather than over millions of years - and results in fuels that are compatible with our existing engines and fuel infrastructure, unlike ethanol or biodiesel that may harm engines when used in large amounts," Cannon said, adding that when operating at full capacity, the Columbus plant will produce enough gas and diesel to fuel more than 25,000 cars. 


In May, KiOR officials reported a first quarter 2013 net loss of $31.3 million, or 30 cents per share -- a 1.6 million increase over $29.7 million in the last quarter of 2012 and nearly double net loss from the first quarter of 2012, which was $16.8 million. Total revenues were $70,000 in the first quarter of 2013, $52,000 of which was the sale of of cellulosic diesel fuel. That is a $12,000 dip from $82,000 in the last quarter of 2012. KiOR reported no revenue in the first quarter of 2012. 


Cannon said in a press release that commencing routine shipments of gasoline and diesel "reflects the continuous improvements in our operations at the Columbus facility. 


"The success of those efforts gives us confidence, more than ever, that the performance targets for the Columbus plant are attainable in the months ahead," he said. "With the facility operating stably and producing cellulosic gasoline and diesel at commercial scale, we believe we are on track to achieve steady-state operations before the end of the calendar year and to demonstrate improving performance metrics over that timeframe." 


KiOR is in the process of building a larger plant, its second, in Natchez.

Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.