Thursday, October 01, 2009

Biomass to Liquids, Next Gen Biofuels

Biomass to liquids is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the energy field. Led by companies such as TRI, Rentech Inc., Velocys, CHOREN, Flambeau River Biofuels/Johnson Timber, AP Fuels and World GTL, BTL is also backed by huge oil and chemical companies. BTL companies have formed an organisation, the Low Carbon Synthetic Fuels Association (LCSFA) to promote the new, vitally important industry.
Specifically, the LCSFA represents the Biomass-to-Liquids (BtL) industry. One of the cleanest and most proven advanced biofuels, BtL is produced through the gasification of renewable biomass and the subsequent conversion of the gasified biomass using the Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) synthesis process. The renewable fuels produced are predominantly synthetic diesel and jet fuel, which are nearly identical to current crude oil-derived fuels, although significantly cleaner.

BtL fuels rely on an established synthesis technology (F-T) which can be brought to market quickly, unlike many other advanced biofuels, which remain in the research and development or “pre-commercial” stages. BtL fuels can be produced from abundant, non-food organic materials such as wood waste from urban recycling programs, paper mills or forestry residues, without increasing land use. Moreover, BtL fuels are fully compatible with the existing fuels infrastructure, enhance engine performance, and reduce emissions. _BusinessWire
BTL is an example of a next-gen biofuel -- biofuels not dependent upon food or prime croplands for production. Other types of next-gen biofuels include cellulosic ethanol and algal / microbial biofuels. Big companies such as DuPont, BP, Shell, Chevron, Exxon / Mobile, Dow, Eni, Petrobras, Conoco / Phillips, Neste, and others who do not wish to be left behind.
Other liquid alternative fuel developments and technologies cropping up include, among others, biobutanol, biogas, biomass-to-liquids, pyrolysis oil, Fischer-Tropsch diesel, gas-to-liquids, and hydrogenation-derived renewable diesel (HDRD).

For HDRD, US-based Valero Energy announced this month that it planned to build a 135m gallon/year renewable diesel facility using animal fats and waste grease in Louisiana through a JV with animal fats producer Darling International.

The schedule for the facility was not disclosed, but the companies said they were seeking a loan guarantee for the proposed JV from the DOE. Other oil firms involved in similar projects include US-based ConocoPhillips and Syntroleum, Finland's Neste Oil, Petrobras of Brazil, and Italy's Eni in JV with US technology firm UOP.

HDRD is usually produced by hydrocracking natural oils and fats, alone or blended with petroleum, in an oil refinery. Gasoline can be also produced using a similar refining process, according to the DOE. _ICIS

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