A Secret Password for Advanced Biofuels at Scale? Forget “Open Sesame”, Try “Velocys Inside”
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) Four new technologies approach scaled operations, all with one element in common – Velocys technology on the back-end. Why Velocys, why now? The Digest investigates.
In Oklahoma, Southeast Oregon, Eastern Ohio, and a site near London we’re about to see the commercial-scale debut of Velocys technology, a smaller scale gas-to-liquids processing technology that converts natural gas or biomass into premium liquid products, such as diesel and jet fuel. In this case, specifically designed for smaller scales, resulting in standardized modular plants that are economic, easier to ship and faster to install, at lower risk, even in the most remote locations.
Velocys makes what’s called micro-channel FT technology, and two of the major aviation biofuels projects, Solena (in partnership with British Airways, in the UK) and Red Rock (in partnership with Cathay Pacific and Southwest AIrlines) are using it at the back-end to convert syngas to fuel. Fischer-Tropsch has been around as a technology for a long-time, but only at a massive scale — these are among the first small-scale FT projects ever. It’s not entirely correct to say that the future of sustainable aviation rests on this technology, but it’s not entirely incorrect either.
More about Velocys
The days of single-attribute feedstocks — e.g. low on price or low on carbon, but not on both, are increasingly numbered and will end as soon as the project development crowd gets its messaging right and insists on sustainable certification and a public-imposed low-carbon benefit for technologies that deliver cleaner air, because that is a benefit to the public not to the investor.
But, then there’s policy-advantaged feedstock as well — meaning sustainability — and there we are at an impasse of sorts in the EU and US. Regulators haven’t seen enough of a robust supply-chain in residues, or enough processing technology roll-out, to robustly enforce biofuels mandates set in the 2000s — we’ve seen overt roll-back in the EU, a wishy-washy attitude in the US, and only in California is the drive still on for lower-carbon fuels., The Velocys projects will help with the latter, of course.
One of the key advantages of Velocys technology is that has the small-scale necessary to tap the value in stranded natgas or stranded biomass (e.g. waste residues such as gasified MSW or stranded wood) — that helps with finding economically advantaged feedstock. READ MORE