[Gasification] Range Fuels Closing Plant

Mark Ludlow mark at ludlow.com
Tue Jan 25 10:20:47 CST 2011

Tom writes: Wonder why anyone stays in this field?


Reply: It pays well.


From: gasification-bounces at lists.bioenergylists.org
[mailto:gasification-bounces at lists.bioenergylists.org] On Behalf Of
LINVENT at aol.com
Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 6:27 AM
To: tmiles at trmiles.com; gasification at lists.bioenergylists.org
Subject: Re: [Gasification] Range Fuels Closing Plant


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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