Tag: KIOR

The Collapse of KiOR

The Inside True Story of a Company Gone Wrong, Part 5 by Jim Lane In 2011, KiOR raised $150 million in its June IPO, claiming that it was generating yields of 67 gallons per ton in its Demo unit operations. But it was miles short of that. In our previous installments, we have charted how KiOR moved from a promising early-stage technology to a public company with serious technological flaws that could have been fixed, but were ignored in what a senior team member speaking for the record, Dennis Stamires, characterized as a “reckless rush to commercial”. By 2012, numerous KiOR staffers of...

The Year Of Living Disingenuously: KiOR

The Inside True Story of a Company Gone Wrong, Part 4 by Jim Lane In 2011, KiOR raised $150 million in its June IPO, claiming that it was generating yields of 67 gallons per ton in its Demo unit operations. But it was miles short of that. In our previous installments, we have charted how KiOR moved from a promising early-stage technology to a public company with serious technological flaws that could have been fixed, but were ignored in what a senior team member speaking for the record, Dennis Stamires, characterized as a “reckless rush to commercial”. But so far, the company and...

KiOR: “You’ve Cooked The Books”

by Jim Lane Note. This is Part 3 of our series on the inside true story of KiOR. In part 1 of our series here, and part 2 here. Our story so far KiOR was hanging by a thread as the summer of 2010 commenced. In a few days, the first recorded visitors to Pasadena demo unit, representatives of the Mississippi Development Authority, were expecting to see the demonstration unit in action. The company was beginning to hurtle towards an IPO. But the fuel yields were low; the fuel was not usable by their initial chosen downstream partner; the catalyst they were using...

KiOR: The Inside Story Of A Company Gone Wrong, Part 2

by Jim Lane Note. This is Part 2 of our series on the inside true story of KiOR. In part 1 of our series, here, we explored: the formation of BIOeCON and KiOR, the problem of too much oxygen and coke, the entry of Khosla Ventures, and the loss of a CEO. Also, “a recipe for technical failure”, disastrous pilot scale results, culture clashes, catalyst development, reactor design trouble and the departure of a key scientist. Two KiOR scientific wings emerge No one was more emphatic about the pilot plant results than scientist Robert Bartek, who sent an email ‘More Math on...

KiOR: The Inside Story Of A Company Gone Wrong

Jim Lane Not long ago, KiOR quietly re-named itself Inaeris Technologies and launched a modest website which discussed the technology and management in little detail, but focused to an extraordinary extent on a declaration of values. Empowerment, honesty, fairness, “lessons learned from our collective experience” and so on. Warm, kindly Hallmark Card sentiments, universally popular, admired and vague. Not the bold, We-Are-Black-Swans, detailed descriptions of yields, costs, downstream partners, brand-name board members and timelines to commercial scale that had been the style of the Old KiOR. Old KiOR was exciting, dramatic,...

The Economics of Biofuels: Three Drivers

Jim Lane They’re known as the three E’s: emissions, energy security and economic development. But how do they contribute to the economics of biofuels? And how do those economics compare to the economics of crude? The financing of biofuels is founded, to put it as simply as possible, upon the economics of substitution. On the one hand, there’s the price of energy currently locked inside biomass; on the other hand, the price of energy currently locked inside crude oil. The monetary rationale for biofuels is a version of vive la difference. To give a simple example, if renewable...

The API Bushwhacks Ethanol

Jim Lane Who’s right, in the fight of their lives over E15 ethanol blending? Whose data’s a Looney Tune, whose is from the real-world? Yesterday the American Petroleum Institute, in an apparent impression of Yosemite Sam, held a press conference in DC to highlight a new report from the Coordinating Research Council on E15 ethanol blends. The report is here. The API: Blast your scuppers, now I gotcha, ya’ flea-ridden riff-raff! Use of the ethanol gasoline blend E15 may endanger fuel systems in millions of 2001 and newer vehicles,...

The CapEx-OpEx Fallacy, Electric Cars, and Biofuels

Jim Lane “Electric power is cheap”, and “cellulosic biofuel costs less than $1.00 per gallon”. The Tesla Model S, from the unveiling on 26-Mar-2009. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons) So why isn’t everyone buying a Chevy Volt? And why can you get lower interest rates on your Visa Card than next-gen biofuel developers face? It’s the old capex-opex (Capital Expense vs. Operating Expense) fallacy. Earlier this week, a new study from researchers at UC Santa Barbara determined photovoltaics to be much more efficient than biomass at turning sunlight into energy to...