January 28, 2008

Verenium says first commercial-scale, enzyme-based celluosic ethanol plant will open by March 31st

Executives at Verenium said that the first enzyme-based, commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in the US operating by March 31st. The Jennings site has been home to a pilot plant since 2006, which was expanded to a 1.4 Mgy demonstration plant last year. The 30 Mgy commercial-scale plant will use sugar cane residue, called bagasse, that is usually burned at electric power plants.

The Cajun Sugar Cooperative sugar mill in New Iberia donated the first 10 tons of bagasse, and Verenium will become a customer of local sugar mills for future shipments. Among cellulosic ethanol plants that received Department of Energy grants last year for commercial-scale plant construction, only the gasification-based plant in Georgia constructed by Range Fuels is said to be closer to an opening date.

Verenium is a research and development company working on cellulosic ethanol technologies, formed last year by a merger of Celunol and Diversa. The company recorded $49 million in revenues in 2006.

In September, NASDAQ added Verenium to the Nasdaq Clean Edge U.S. Index (CLEN) and the NASDAQ Clean Edge U.S. Liquid Series Index (CELS).

Verenium filed a $150 million shelf offer with the SEC in support of a new capital raise. The company says that it plans to sell 3 million shares at $50 to raise $150 million in new equity, although it did not announce a date.

In Missouri last month, Bunge announced that it will become the process implementation partner in the launch of Verenium’s new Purifine enzyme for seed oil refining. Bunge has been expanding its biodiuesel operations in Brazil and Argentina.

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