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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — To preserve cash flow and reduce expenses, KiOR will stop production at its Columbus plant for the next three months while it makes changes it hopes will improve production and efficiency.

But company officials say the production shutdown won’t mean layoffs of current employees. Instead, KiOR CEO Fred Cannon, speaking during a conference call Thursday morning, says they’ll be busy with the strategic changes.

“They will continue to be there. There will be a lot of work for them on the efficiencies we’ve discussed,” Cannon told WCBI.

Until the new equipment and processes are installed and working, the company will delay any planning for a second Columbus facility.

The company is trying to raise $10 million for investments in the Columbus plant this year and another $22 million for research and development.

Cannon says both are critical to the company reaching its production goals and maintaining cash flow by next year.

The Columbus plant has been down for much of November and December in a cost-cutting move while the company analyzed operations and devised needed changes.

Even with the shutdowns, the plant, the first of its kind to turn wood products into gasoline, diesel and fuel oil, operated for 65 days in the last three months of the year and produced 385,000 gallons of fuel; for the year it produced 894,000 gallons.

In the last quarter, it shipped 115,000 gallons of gasoline, 111,000 gallons of diesel and 26,000 gallons of fuel oil.

Cannon says the debate in Washington in changing alternative fuel standards drove down prices so low that the company couldn’t afford to continue production for now until it can get efficiencies to the point where it is producing at least 80 gallons of fuel for every ton of wood.

Cannon says he hopes once changes — new equipment, modifications and revised processes — are made during the first quarter, the Columbus plant can begin production again in the second quarter.

But to make any of it happen, Cannon admitted the company must get financing in place.

Thursday’s announcement comes as the “Greenfuels” industry is coming under fire, including a 60 Minutes report Sunday on CBS that looked at KiOr and similar alternative fuel industries and the billions of dollars that have been spent on them. In addition, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, one of the highest profile names on the KiOR board, stepped down last month.

Comment on this Story

  • Robert Davidson

    385,000 gallons in 65 days is 5,923 gallons per day at say 275 tons per day of dry pine (between 250 and 300 as the CEO stated) is 21.5 gals per ton. This is after 16 months of “starting up” https://www.wcbi.com/wcbi/kior-reaches-milestone

    The folks who work for Kior at the Columbus site have bust their butts and they should be proud. The company simply lied about its technology.

    Is there a way you can get data from the utility that provides the site natural gas to see how much natural gas they use?

    At 10,400 BTU per lb of yellow pine their wood energy in a ton going in is 20.8 million BTU per ton. 21.5 gallons of the stuff they make has 2.58 million BTUs. on the wood only they are 12.4% efficient. Add the electricity and the natural gas and they could be as low as 6 or 7% efficient. This is a sick joke that was played by Khosla and Rice on you all in MIssissippi and particularly in Columbus.

    Sadly I told you so long ago

    Lindsay Leveen The Green Machine

  • Lindsay Leveen

    My email to Mr. Davidson and Ms. Lackman of August 21, 2013

    Folks about 2 months ago I sent you all an email that Ms. Jackman had stumbled upon a real big story in your little town of Columbus where the KIOR plant is located. You all ignored me!!!! Ms. Jackman stated that only a single truckload of product had been shipped out of the plant as of the date of her report. I picked up on this and reported that KIOR was going nowhere. Few believed me but now all the “greenies” have got it KIOR cannot yield 72 gallons of diesel from a bone dry ton of wood.

    The ambulance chasing lawyers will file numerous suits and Ms. Jackson report of the single solitary truckload will become the key evidence how the company lied about “success”. Condi Rice is deep trouble as she cannot claim immunity of office for the missing weapons of mass combustion. Ms. Jackman I too am a novice journalist and I won the National Newspapers Association first prize for a serious column in exposing Bloom Energy (another former secretary of state sits on their board his day of judgement will also soon come). Ms. Jackman may get an Emmy for exposing KIOR even though your channel had no clue you actually were doing this.

    I just love this story of how a naive reporter in the backwaters of America is sent to report on local plant that practices alchemy and suddenly the former Secretary of State of the US is embroiled in a stock manipulation scandal.

    We have to keep our free press press despite the Complex including your network trying so hard to favor the members of the complex. Yes Leslie Stahl on Sixty Minutes launched Bloom Energy for her friends Al Gore, Colin Powell, and John Doerr. I hope you all have Haley Barbour’s number he brought you KIOR. Condi Rice can be reached at Stanford University where she was seen buying up surplus Immodium.

    Peace The Green Machine
    Lindsay Leveen

  • James Rust

    This plant appears to be able to produce about 1.5 million gallons of fuel per year. This is not very much. Ethanol plants produce about 100 million gallons per year in comparison. The plant could fuel about 3000 vehicles per year.

    No information is given about the cost of the plant. I suspect it is way over $100 million which infers the capital costs per car this plant could service is over $30,000 per year. Add in cost of materials, other energy sources, payrolls, etc. and the fuel costs must be around $10 per gallon or more. Not too attractive unless you are on a federal government expense account–Department of Defense doesn’t mind paying $27 a gallon for fuel. This could be a fuel supplier for the new Farm To Fleet program to have renewables supply 50 percent of military fuel requirements by renewable fuels by 2030 announced by the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and Department of Agriculture last December.

    James H. Rust, Professor of nuclear engineering

  • Lindsay Leveen

    Prof Rust the plant cost aprox $225 million. Mr. Davidson thanks for posting my email to you. Please post all the other emails I sent you and Ms. Jackman going back 8 months now how I told you all that Kior could never yield their claimed gallons of fuel per bone dry ton of pine. Also post the email I sent you all about their catalyst cost being over $10 per gallon

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