LS9 Opens Its Innovative Advanced Biofuels Demonstration Plant in Florida
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) One of biofuels’ hottest companies transitions from research phase to operating phase with opening of demo plant in Okeechobee – what’s next, and where?
…The opening of that fermenter column is what the VIPs are coming to celebrate, because LS9′s demonstration facility opened for business in Okeechobee yesterday. A wonder of science it is – a technology that takes in sugars, and through microbial fermentation directly converts the material into a programmable array of products, including biodiesel, jet fuel, diesel, or surfactant alcohols, just for starters.
…One of these days, it is expected that LS9′s engineered e.coli will be chewing up cellulosic feedstocks, and the Keasling lab at Berkeley has made significant progress towards that end. For now, the magic bug lives on corn or cane syrups – and it is for that reason that the company is expected to build its first commercial facility in the world’s capital of lower cost sugar, Brazil. The Saudi Arabia of syrup.
…The lack of low-cost sugar in the US is likely one of the reasons why a flock of politicians haven’t made the LS9 demonstration plant a regular stop for photo ops in the crucial political swing state of Florida.
… It is an amazing thing to see a 135,000 liter fermenter using a biological process to produce a diverse array of products, that traditionally have been the production outputs of petrochemical plants. To produce the same product stream with a traditional chemical plant, also, would have required a considerably larger footprint than the project that LS9 has just completed. When feedstock prices come into line, companies like Dow, Chevron and P&G will be amply rewarded for their vision – not to mention the LS9 team and its original VC investors.