KiOR: The inside true story of a company gone wrong

May 17, 2016 |

And then, the Freak Show

For others, the freak flags were flying.

In a Motion filed in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware on February 12th, Robert C. Dalton, CTO for ESTEC Technology Works objected to a motion by Mississippi Development Authority to convert KiOR’s Chapter 11 re-organization to a Chapter 7 dissolution. ESTEC had made an offer for KiOR’s assets.

In part, Dalton wrote:

The Grand Wizard of Magic Catalysts, Robert C. Dalton and his “Magic Kingdom”, ESTEC Technology Works LLC, are in possession of a collection of volumes of secret books that contain spells (formulation of materials and processes) for energy applications, chemical synthesis, environmental applications, food processing and biotechnology as well as now [sic] search for Daltonite, a quasi-mineral, that is in our Solar Systems and most likely is found throughout the Galaxy. 

ESTEC Technology Works, LLC will soon be announcing the formation of their new “Solar Systems Exploration Division Incorporated” and ESTEC/Dalton will be searching areas at, near or around Mars, Neptune and Jupiter to locate one or more facilities to search for Daltonite and to develop and launch technology to supply energy, oxygen, habitat and infrastructure for the expansion of the reach of humans and their colonization beyond Earth and Low Earth Orbit”.

Now the story can be told

For two years, the KiOR story been one part circus, one part asset grab, and one part “What the heck happened”? But now the smoke is clearing.

Looking towards the future, Inaeris Technologies is the emerging remnant, described by its President Chris Artzer as, in essence, a Series A venture-backed company, at pilot stage, aiming to demonstrate the technology it believes will be robust and which it aims to demonstrate in time. In the case of Inaeris, as Artzer adds, it has the benefit of being at pilot stage but having produced a million gallons of in-spec, drop-in renewable fuels.

What of the past? Since last winter, we have visited with multiple parties intimately familiar with KiOR’s science and commercial progress dating back to its formation, and we have reviewed dozens of documents relating to technology development, yields, and commercial claims from 2007 — that tell the true story of KiOR.

The pressing question is, exactly how and why did the yields and costs promised in the IPO, 67 gallons per ton of biomass with an eventual target of 90 and at a cost of $1.80 per gallon, fail to be realized in the first commercial plant at Columbus?

We begin the publication of that story today in The Digest.

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