Surface-to-Air: How Vertimass Might Shatter Conventional Yields in Alcohol-to-Jet Fuels
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) Saturated E10 ethanol markets; unmet demand in aviation biofuels: can Vertimass’ technology provide the bridge?
… After all, if you dehydrate ethanol (that is, remove the water, H2O), what you have is ethylene, a hydrocarbon. And you are the road to a longer-chain range of molecules such as kerosene — and there are existing chemistries to make that transformation.
Byogy has been developing one of these — a four-step process of dehydration, oligomerization, and hydrogenation that has picked up some heavyweight airline interest.
Another technology has emerged in recent months. A catalytic process developed originally at Oak Ridge, that also dehydrates ethanol — but instead of producing pure ethylene, it converts ethanol in one step to a range of diesel and jet molecules, with only about 3% ethylene content in that step.
This is Vertimass.
Early-stage results out of the Vertimass labs and Oak Ridge suggest an average of 1.6 molecules of ethanol, to 1 molecule of diesel, jet or gasoline.
CEO Charles Wyman explains: “The key is that the catalytic reaction removes water from the ethanol molecule to produce a variety of hydrocarbons that retain all the carbon plus the hydrogen not taken out with the water during the reaction without adding hydrogen. Thus, in simple terms, we could view this as C2H4(H2O) > C2H4 + H2O.
“However, the catalyst forms very little ethylene (~3%) but instead converts most of the ethanol into a variety of aromatics, alkanes, and alkenes that give this overall stoichiometry. As a result, the maximum mass yield of hydrocarbon fuels is 28/46 x100 = 60.9%. The volume ratio of ethanol input to hydrocarbon output depends on the mass density of the product vs. ethanol but should be about 1.6 volumes of ethanol/volume of hydrocarbon fuel on average for diesel, gasoline, and jet.
According to the company. “The process benefits from 1) single step conversion of ethanol into a hydrocarbon blend stock with high yields, 2) no hydrogen addition, 3) production of minimal amounts of light gases, 4) operation at relatively low temperature and atmospheric pressure, 5) ability to process 5 to 100% ethanol concentrations, 6) product flexibility to respond to changing market demands, and 7) catalyst durability.” READ MORE
DOE Awards $3.5 Million to Cellana for Algal Biofuels
(Algae Industry Magazine) The U.S. Energy Department has announced $3.5 million for an algae project aimed at accelerating the development of sustainable, affordable algal biofuels…
Cellana, LLC, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, was selected to receive the $3.5 million grant to develop a fully integrated, high-yield algae feedstock production system by integrating the most advanced strain improvement, cultivation, and processing technologies…READ MORE