LanzaTech Seeks Success Where Another Failed
by S. Heather Duncan (Macon Telegraph) Although the company that purchased a defunct ethanol refinery in Soperton has some of the same financial backers as previous owners who lost the plant to foreclosure, leaders of LanzaTech Freedom Pines say their company will make the plant succeed where Range Fuels failed.
The new company’s technology and intended products are different, they say, and it is relying on private investment.
Colorado-based Range Fuels had planned to use a catalytic conversion process to make ethanol from wood chips at the Soperton site. When that technology apparently failed to work commercially, Range tried to transfer the plant and a $40 million federal loan guarantee to the newly created LanzaTech Freedom Pines, a subsidiary of New Zealand-based LanzaTech Inc.
However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture refused to transfer the loan, triggering foreclosure on Range Fuels, which ended in LanzaTech Freedom Pines buying the plant on the courthouse steps a month ago for $5.1 million. Company officials have said they hope to add to the existing equipment, hire hundreds of employees and produce a variety of fuels and chemicals.
…Unlike Range Fuels, LanzaTech Freedom Pines has not received any U.S. funding for the Soperton plant. But its parent company has received $560,000 from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, $4 million from the Department of Energy and $3 million from the Federal Aviation Administration, all for research and development related to producing jet fuel from waste gas streams or biomass, said Laurel Harmon, vice president for government relations of LanzaTech Inc.
…Robert Rapier, who vets renewable energy technology and writes a prominent industry blog, predicted that LanzaTech will seek government funding for the Soperton project. “I would ban them from government funding until that Range loan is paid off” because of the overlap between the two companies’ investors, he said. “Anyone involved in the Range Fuels thing shouldn’t be getting more tax money. … A lot of people are angry that LanzaTech, with some of the same people, came in and bought (the plant) for pennies on the dollar.” READ MORE