[Gasification] Range Fuels Closing Plant

LINVENT at aol.com LINVENT at aol.com
Tue Jan 25 08:27:18 CST 2011

Dear Technologists,
     The failure or whatever it is spun by Mr. Klepper in the article 
announcing the closure of the plant, is by itself devastating to the industry. 
Without a successfully operating plant, the industry has no positive markers 
for the investment community. Do you think that the financing group would do 
another bio-refinery after putting up the money for this plant? 
     What is more difficult is that nowhere in the technical review 
community used to fund this plant was the critical eye which said "It won't work". 
Of course, the developers may have shopped the technical review until they 
got what they wanted to hear. The DOE is quite apparently not able to make 
the distinction as they approved the funding. This also means that a 
successful technology would not be known by them. It takes a winner to know a winner. 

       I had early meetings with parts of the Klepper movement. A small 
private group which had put $1+mm into the project and were basically 
abandoneed when the technology was sold to another group for development. Their 
concerns were the reactor design which apparently relied upon a mechanical system 
which they didn't think would scale well. Not knowing what the issues with 
the plant not operating, this may have been a contributing factor. They also 
said that they were sticking with it and just picking my brains which I 
suspected and didn't contribute anything of significance. 
       There were also issues with the catalyst. Reports that it produced 
only ethanol using the proprietary catalyst were suspect as most of the 
catalysts for ethanol production produce methanol also. The press statement that 
they ran a methanol batch first and then an ethanol batch, are interesting 
in this regard. 
       DOE is doing a lot of soul searching at the behest of the White 
House because of the dearth of bio-energy project successes. Political pressure 
will not make it happen, money will not make it happen, but a serious well 
developed , innovative, simple process and technology will. 
     Below are some of the massive failures:
Occidental's flash pyrolysis unit in Sad Diego: $100mm
Britestar/EDL pyrolysis unit in Australia: $200mm
Range Fuels: $300mm
Molten Metals: $90mm(mostly DOE earmarked funds)
Hawaii IGT/EPRI/Westinghouse/HPL/ gasification unit: $30-50mm?
Battelle's dual fluidized bed gasification system: $60mm? 
Thermoselect's two stage combustion system: $125mm/plant 4-5 plants except 
for the one in Japan which I think is still operating. 
PRM's Philadelphia sewage sludge gasification system: $2-3mm (blew up and 
was shut down very shortly after installation, I was called to see if wanted 
the plant for scrap).
Italian sawdust gasification plant near Venice, 1 Mwe couldn't get an 
engine to run more than 40 hours between valve jobs due to tar fouling of intake 
Farmland's acquisition of the Daggett, California Texaco coal gasification 
144 Mwe power plant and reconstituting it in Coffeville, Kansas to run on 
pet coke for ammonia production. Texaco was thrown out of the project, 
Farmland finished the plant got it running on petcoke, had to file bankruptcy and 
sell the 1100 ton/day ammonia production unit using it to a separate entity. 
     The list goes on and on. 
     Wonder why anyone stays in this field? 

Leland T. "Tom" Taylor
Thermogenics Inc.
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