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KiOR secures funding to increase biofuels production

kior logoCOLUMBUS — A Texas-based company has secured funding to proceed with plans to double the production capacity at its biofuels production facility in Columbus.

KiOR Inc., based in Pasadena, announced yesterday in a news release it has received $100 million in committed equity financing from Khosla Ventures, an investment company based in California, and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.

Khosla Ventures committed $85 million and Gates, through Gates Ventures, committed $15 million, according to a release from KiOR. Both commitments are contingent upon the company fully funding the second biofuel plant in Columbus. The project is called Columbus II.

Khosla has been a major financier for the company.

Columbus I, a biomass fluid catalytic cracking unit, began converting wood chips to fuel earlier this year. It is a 500-ton per day facility. KiOR’s plan is to build Columbus II — also a 500-ton per day facility — next to Columbus I.

Fred Cannon, KiOR’s president and CEO, said in the news release that he expects Columbus I to maybe increase production capacity to over 600 bone dry tons of feedstock per day before the end of 2014.

Once started, construction of Columbus II will take roughly 18 months, Cannon said.

Cannon has said that second plant will help KiOR make quicker progress toward its long-term goal of 92 gallons per bone dry ton of biomass.

The announcement comes in the wake of a pending lawsuit by a group of KiOR stockholders, who have complained about the company’s inability to meet projected production targets at the facilities during the last quarter. The suit, filed by investor Michael Berry, says the potential class could have hundreds or thousands of participants, and is seeking damages for losses.

In moving ahead in Columbus, KiOR is putting off the start of construction of a larger facility in Natchez, Miss., until late 2014. The company said in August it would cost $560 million to $600 million to build the Natchez plant.

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