Today in Cleantech

We’ve got some ambitious plans from Khosla-backed “renewable crude” startup KiOR to report on. This morning, the Houston-based company announced it has a term sheet for a Department of Energy loan guarantee of — wait for it — $1 billion-plus to help it build multiple plants to produce up to 250 million gallons of biofuel per year. A term sheet is just an opening salvo in the long process of landing a DOE loan guarantee, so we’re waiting to see what comes next. Still, it’s a huge amount to request — the last round of DOE biofuel loan guarantees added up to $571 million total for five separate companies, to give a point of comparison. KiOR’s approach to the biofuel challenge is quite different — instead of bypassing the traditional oil refining process with cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel or algae-based biofuel, the company says it can add a catalyst to improve on the well-known industrial process of pyrolysis — super-heating organic matter in the absence of oxygen — to yield a bio-crude product that can be dropped into existing oil refining infrastructure. That could cut out a lot of the headaches associated with brewing and transporting ethanol that can’t run through existing oil pipelines, or adding cold-sensitive biodiesel to truck fuel