ArborGen and Range Fuels Working to Understand the Potential of Tree Cellulose for Biofuels

Research Underway at the Soperton, Ga., Plant on the Potential of Woody Biomass as a Feedstock for Cellulosic Biofuels

Jan 12, 2010, 08:00 ET from ArborGen, LLC

SUMMERVILLE, S.C., Jan. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- ArborGen, LLC, and Range Fuels, Inc., are working together on a project to evaluate the usefulness of woody biomass as a source of cellulose for biofuels. Range Fuels is looking at a variety of non-food biomass feedstocks to see which ones might be most efficiently and economically converted to cellulosic biofuels. Cutting edge research, like that being done with Range Fuels, will help businesses determine the types of woody biomass best suited for particular green energy uses.

"Our relationship with ArborGen adds to our existing efforts to investigate how alternative renewable biomass feedstocks can be used in our proprietary two-step thermo-chemical conversion process to cost-effectively produce low carbon biofuels and clean renewable power," said David Aldous, Range Fuels' CEO.  "High yielding woody biomass like that being explored and developed by ArborGen has the potential to improve the operating cost structure and possibly further reduce the already very low GHG emissions profile of cellulosic biofuels plants.  For these reasons we are excited to work closely with ArborGen."

In the fall of 2008 ArborGen planted demonstration plots of Pine and hardwoods near Range Fuels' commercial cellulosic biofuels plant currently under construction near Soperton, Georgia. The plots will be used to identify which trees can be grown successfully in the Soperton area and how effectively these trees can be used to convert plant cellulose to cellulosic biofuels. In addition, this research will help Range Fuels understand the economic, environmental and logistical issues surrounding the planting, management, harvesting, storage and transportation of purpose grown trees as a biofuels feedstock.

"Although market forces will ultimately determine the end value of tree biomass, understanding the role of the tree as a feedstock for cellulosic biofuels is a key part of the necessary research that must be done in the United States as we try to meet aggressive goals established by the Obama Administration for green energy," said Barbara Wells, president and CEO of ArborGen.

"ArborGen believes that meeting these energy goals will require the use of a variety of plants from many different sources and the work we are doing with Range Fuels is an important step in determining the most efficient methods for supplying and producing cellulosic biofuels," Wells said.

About ArborGen, LLC

ArborGen is a leader in tree improvement and the commercial production of trees. We are dedicated to helping the global forest industry meet the growing demand for wood, pulp & paper, and energy in a more productive and sustainable way. Enabling more wood to be grown on less land helps conserve the world's native forests in all their beauty, diversity and complexity. With one of the world's most extensive tree germplasm resources, ArborGen uses both traditional breeding and advanced genetic technologies, to discover and produce high yield seedlings for our customers, allowing our customers to significantly increase the productivity of their forests and manufacturing processes. Our mission is to deliver superior performing trees through innovative science and world class customer service every tree, every time. For more information, please visit

About Range Fuels

Range Fuels is focused on commercially producing low-carbon biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol and methanol, and clean renewable power using renewable and sustainable supplies of biomass that cannot be used for food. The company uses an innovative and proprietary two-step thermo-chemical process to convert biomass, such as wood chips, switchgrass, corn stover, sugarcane bagasse and olive pits to cellulosic biofuels and clean renewable power.  In the first step of the process heat, pressure and steam are used to convert the biomass to a synthesis gas or syngas.  Excess energy in this step is recovered and used to generate clean renewable power.  In the second step the cleaned syngas is passed over a proprietary catalyst and transformed into cellulosic biofuels, which can be separated and processed to yield a variety of low carbon biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol and methanol.  This suite of products can be used to displace gasoline or diesel transportation fuels, generate clean renewable energy or be used as low carbon chemical building blocks for other products.  The leadership team melds experience from the technologically intensive oil, chemical, petrochemical, coal gasification, and power industries, and the renewable fuels industry.  Range Fuels' vision is to introduce the world to solutions to the pressing global problems of energy, the environment, and the economy by providing low carbon biofuels and clean power that are renewable, sustainable, and eco-friendly.