GM Partners With Ethanol Trendsetter

GM announced today it has formed a partnership and taken an ownership stake in Boston-based Mascoma, a renewable energy company that is trying to develop cellulosic ethanol from wood chips, waste paper sludge and switch grass, reports USA Today.

Waste paper sludge? Do I even want to know what that is? I asked our staff and they think it’s used toilet paper. As gross as it sounds, if I can run my car on it and it saves me money, I’m all for it.

This is GM’s second deal with an ethanol start-up in 2008. Their other partner is Coskata, based in Illinois.

With sales down and GM reporting such huge losses recently, it makes sense that they are looking into other ways to generate revenue.

GM said its relationship with the company would help develop non-grain forms of ethanol for flexible-fuel vehicles, which run on a mix of gasoline and ethanol.

Mascoma’s executives said they hope to mass-produce ethanol for about $1 to $1.50 a gallon and begin producing millions of gallons of the fuel around 2010. But Bruce Jamerson, Mascoma’s chairman and chief executive, said the company’s approach "can be economic at relatively small volumes."

GM President and Chief Operating Officer Fritz Henderson said that "ethanol has the greatest near-term potential as a clean-burning, renewable fuel that can help reduce oil dependence."