As fuel prices have gone up, the hunt to find alternative fuel sources has been a major issue in the United States and the rest of the world. A Hillsborough company announced last week its plans to aid in the search—with the results to prove it.
Primus Green Energy has developed a biomass-to-gasoline fuel by transforming wood pellets into 93-octane gasoline that, as demonstrated by Primus CEO Robert J. Johnsen when he started a car fueled by the gasoline, can work as an alternative to crude oil for as low as $65 per barrel once mass production begins.
The company announced this milestone during a ceremony last Friday to dedicate its Hillsborough-based demonstration plant, located at 219 Homestead Road.
“Since crude (oil) is now trading for $83-85 per barrel and, as we all know, has traded well over $100 per barrel, it makes us highly competitive with traditional gasoline,” Primus Green Energy Vice President of Business Development George Boyajian said. “We’re here to celebrate the dedication of our demonstration plant.”
The project was funded by a $40-million investment from IC Green Energy, the renewable energy arm of the publicly-traded Israel Corporation. IC Green Energy President Yom-Tov Samia was on-hand to represent his company and pledged to a future of mutual support between the two companies.
“It doesn’t say we are not committed for the future; we are, as ICG, committed to the future of this company and will participate in the next round of this company after the commercial level,” Samia said.
IC Green Energy is, thus far, the lone investor in the project. Samia stated that he, for one, would like to see more government and private-sector backing of the project as it develops.
“We’d really like to see more partners from the United States, the private sectors and the government sectors, as well,” Samia said.
Johnsen discussed the trends that, in many people’s eyes, should make the project a success and should cause it to benefit fuel consumers around the world.
“Alternative fuels are well-positioned for success given macroeconomic trends that include the high cost of oil, the growing demand for energy due to the modernization of developing countries such as India and China and the strategic imperative to reduce our reliance on foreign oil,” Johnsen said. “We expect, as well, to contribute to our need to reduce our carbon footprint to combat global climate change.”
Johnsen, however, noted the company has to move into the commercial realm incrementally, as skeptics remain about alternative fuel sources, which sometimes prevents investors from dedicating finances to such projects.
“Although the huge size of the potential alternative fuel market is a cause for optimism, we have to temper that optimism with a healthy dose of realism due to current economic conditions and the inherent skepticism on the part of financial markets to new technologies, even those with the greatest potential,” Johnsen said.
Still, the alternative fuel plant has plenty of backing from state and federal officials. Former New Jersey Gov. Jim Florio attended and let all those in attendance know that the dedication of this plant is, in his eyes, the start of something much bigger.
“This is an important day; when this project does scale up and becomes commercial viable, we can all take some pride in being here at the very beginning,” Florio said.
On the federal level, USDA State Director of Rural Development Howard Henderson was clear on the benefits of the fuel development project.
“This partnership would help reduce our dependency on foreign oil, save money for us as consumers, create jobs for American workers and support, in some form, our own national security,” Henderson said.
Also in attendance were Assistant Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Robert Marshall, Congressman Leonard Lance, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Commissioner Joseph L. Fiordaliso, New Jersey State Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman, New Jersey Assemblyman Upendra J. Chivukula and Energy Vision President Joanna Underwood.
The plant is expected to be completed for full use and development of alternative fuel products in late 2012 or early 2013.