Kior opens wood-to-gas plant as biofuel makers seek scale

Kior Inc. (KIOR), a producer of transportation fuels from biomass such as wood waste and non- food crops, began production at its first commercial facility as other U.S. biofuel companies including Gevo Inc. (GEVO) and Amyris Inc. (AMRS) struggle to shift their technologies from the laboratory to the factory.

Kior’s facility in Columbus, Mississippi, will be able to produce more than 13 million gallons (49 million liters) of gasoline and diesel a year once it reaches full capacity in nine to 12 months, Kate Perez, a company spokeswoman, said in an interview yesterday. The Pasadena, Texas-based company is planning another plant in Natchez, Mississippi, which will be three times bigger.

Kior is one of several companies that have gone public in the past two years to raise capital for high-volume plants that process organic material into biofuels and chemicals. Some of these efforts have been marked by delays and shutdowns as yields failed to meet expectations, demonstrating the challenges of commercializing a new technology, said Alejandro Zamorano Cadavid, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

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