Frontline Bioenergy to suspend operations; continues to seek finance

November 4, 2010 |

Frontline BioEnergy announced that it plans to suspend operations effective November 12th.  The Iowa-based company has spent the past five years developing and commercially demonstrating biomass gasification technologies with broad application in corn ethanol and coal repowering, combined heat and power systems, and production of syngas for advanced biofuels.

Over the past year, the company has focused on refining and articulating a waste-to-energy strategy. The company has been attempting to raise Series B capital based on the strong economic projections of this waste-to-energy model which can be built for less than half the capital investment of facilities based on traditional mass-burn combustion, plasma, and other gasification approaches.

Frontline’s waste-to-energy system couples its proprietary fluid bed gasification and gas conditioning processes with a novel and highly efficient sorting process. The combined system converts sorted municipal solid waste (RDF) into a very clean-burning syngas for generating renewable heat and power. The performance of this system is supported by the company’s RDF test runs at its 5 ton–per-day pilot gasifier system in Iowa and two years of commercial operation at its 75 ton-per-day gasification system in Minnesota.

The company has achieved considerable success in being selected as a technology provider for a number of projects; however, none of these projects was able to move beyond a conceptual engineering phase. Factors inhibiting these biomass and waste gasification projects were non-technical. They include: very low natural gas pricing, lack of federal or additional state legislation addressing carbon emissions, regulatory uncertainty (e.g. rapidly changing EPA regulations), and a challenging investment environment.

Management of the company’s assets including its technology and intellectual property will revert to its primary investor and shareholder, Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (CVEC). Although the company has decided to suspend operations, they are still accepting inquiries from prospective investors. All inquiries should be directed to CVEC General Manager, Mike Jerke at [email protected] at 320-843-4813.

The Digest’s Take: A technology and team well worth a hard look from the serious biofuels investor.

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