Washington, D.C. – General Motors Corp. has announced a strategic relationship with Mascoma Corp. to develop cellulosic ethanol from non-grain biomass. Mascoma’s single-step biochemical conversion method converts the biomass into low-carbon alternative fuels.
The relationship, which includes an undisclosed equity investment by GM, complements an earlier investment in a cellulosic ethanol startup that uses a thermo-chemical process to make ethanol from non-grain sources.
“Taken together, these technologies represent what we see as the best in the cellulosic ethanol future and cover the spectrum in science and commercialization,” said GM president Fritz Henderson. “Demonstrating the viability of sustainable non-grain-based ethanol is critical to developing the infrastructure to support the flex-fuel vehicle market. These investments in leading-edge firms supports belief that ethanol has the greatest near-term potential as a clean-burning, renewable fuel that can help reduce oil dependence.”
Mascoma’s method, called Consolidated Bioprocessing or CBP, lowers costs by limiting additives and enzymes used in other biochemical processes. Mascoma is testing its CBP technology and expects to begin producing ethanol later this year at its demonstration plant, currently under construction in Rome, New York. The company has also partnered with the University of Tennessee to develop a switchgrass-to-ethanol pilot facility near Knoxville, Tennessee, and is pursuing opportunities in Michigan.