Tifton Gazette

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May 12, 2006

Tifton lab helps company plan Georgia ethanol plant

TIFTON — If entrepreneurs Roger Reisert and Clint Thompson with C2Biofuels have their way, it’s not too late to change the course of history and use ethanol as the primary fuel for vehicles — as Henry Ford had planned.

According to the Ford Web site, that’s the fuel Ford planned for his Model T to use, but others of the time thought gasoline, or “Black Gold,” was the answer. With the ever-rising price of gasoline, it is now looking like Ford and the moonshiners had it right all along.

C2Biofuels, an alternative fuel technology company backed by Georgia entrepreneur and investor Glen P. Robinson Jr., uses one of Georgia’s sustainable resources — pine trees — to create ethanol.

The idea of producing ethanol from plants is not new. While converting plant starch is the fundamental principle in making moonshine, it is also the green technology used in the conversion of corn into ethanol for fuel. C2Biofuel’s distinction is using pine trees instead of corn to create ethanol.

While Reisert and Thompson, who both have extensive experience in the petroleum and alternative fuel industries, had made significant initial progress in their quest, additional engineering was needed to perfect the process.

“At that point, Wayne Hodges of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, directed us to the Agriculture Innovation Center in Tifton,” Reisert said.

Reisert said that the center in Tifton helped them obtain a $100,000 matching innovation grant to pay for the team to search for sites to locate and pay key people in the operation.

“We like to say Bill Boone and the team at the Agriculture Innovation Center provided our company with an ‘enabling environment,’” Reisert said.

Dr. Sam Shelton, director of the Strategic Energy Initiative at the Georgia Institute of Technology, guides the ongoing engineering work. Researchers at Georgia Tech have been joined by Dr. Joy Peterson at the University of Georgia to work on optimizing the process of accessing the sugars in the pine trees and choosing the optimal enzymes for breaking down sugars for the ultimate conversion to ethanol.

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