Primus hires new CEO, announces completion of third funding round

By Erin Voegele | March 21, 2012

Primus Green Energy Inc. announced completion of its third round of funding with a recent $12 million investment by IC Green Energy Ltd., the renewable energy arm of Israel Corp. Ltd. According to Primus, the investment completes financing for its demonstration plant. The company has also announced the addition of Robert Johnsen as its new CEO. Johnsen formerly founded a division of Mascoma Corp. 

The latest $12 million investment, which brings the total of funds raised since 2007 to $40 million, will be used to support the completion of Primus’ single-loop demonstration plant that is under construction in New Jersey. The company’s technology includes of a front-end gasification process that can convert either biomass or natural gas into syngas. The backend “syngas-to-green” process, called STG Plus, converts the resulting syngas into gasoline.

According to Primus Vice President George Goyajian, the demonstration plant is scheduled to begin operations in the fourth quarter of this year. The new funding will also help support the planning and engineering studies for Primus’ first commercial production facility, which is scheduled to break ground during the first half of 2013. The first commercial facility will have a production capacity of 5 to 10 MMgy, Goyajian said.

Regarding operations at the demonstration plant, Glyajian noted that Primus plans to employ three different feedstocks: natural gas, premium wood pellets and miscanthus pellets. The company already has a feedstock agreement in place to provide the initial commercial facility with premium wood pellets. Feedstock discussions for the initial commercial plant and future facilities are also underway with a variety of additional groups, Glyajian added, including one with a miscanthus supplier.

While Primus’ first commercial plant will produce gasoline, the company’s technology is also cable of chemical production, including xylene and toluene. “On the chemical side we are talking to a couple of chemical companies about building dedicated plants,” Glyajian said. “They would build the dedicated plants and we would participate in some sort of joint venture with them.”

Primus Chairman Yom-Tov Samia has also addressed the possibility of a future IPO. “While we are currently focused on bringing our technology to market and on expanding our network of strategic partners, we are always keeping an eye on the marketplace,” Samia said. “Today we have no plans for an IPO, but if market conditions are right, we would consider it more closely in late 2013 or early 2014.”