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Hugoton cellulosic ethanol plant sold out of bankruptcy

In this photo from 2014 provided by Abengoa, a load of biomass, agricultural crop residues, is delivered to Abengoa’s biorefinery in Hugoton.
In this photo from 2014 provided by Abengoa, a load of biomass, agricultural crop residues, is delivered to Abengoa’s biorefinery in Hugoton. File photo

Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas sold its Hugoton cellulosic ethanol plant to Synata Bio for $48.5 million, according to a release from deal adviser Ocean Park.

Abengoa Bioenergy, a unit of the Spanish alternative energy giant Abengoa, is in bankrutpcy and selling off assets through the bankruptcy court. It sold its traditional grain ethanol plant in Colwich in August. Synata Bio is a high-efficiency gas-to-liquids technology company based in Warrenville, Ill. The company’s low-cost process converts a wide variety of abundant feedstocks, such as natural gas, biomass, MSW and industrial gases into drop-in fuels and chemicals.

The plant in Hugoton is unusual because it produces ethanol from cellulose, such as that found in wheat straw or switchgrass, a less valuable material than the grain that most plants use. The hope of the U.S. government, which subsidized the technology, was that cellulosic ethanol technology would advance enough to make this product as competitive as regular ethanol.

The assets sold include a state-of-the-art 25-million-gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol biorefinery with an integrated, co-located biomass-to-electric-power 21 megawatt power plant.

In 2011, the U.S. Energy Department gave a $133.9 million loan guarantee to Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas to support construction of the plant.

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