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Advance Australia Air: Byogy Steps up in Australia in Drive for Low-Carbon Jet Fuels

Submitted by on July 5, 2016 – 4:55 pmNo Comment

by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest)  From Australia comes the news that the country’s former Federal Resources and Energy Minister, Martin Ferguson, is now the chairman of the advisory board for Byogy Renewables, the California-based alcohol-to-jet fuel pioneer that has been working towards an Australia-based first commercial project.

Now, many people wonder: with spot ethanol prices at $1.60 and spot jet fuel prices at $1.33, why would anyone convert ethanol or any alcohol into a jet fuel? Isn’t that like buying two new BMWs, stripping them for parts, and making a Chevy? That’s the “Natural Law of Alternative Commodity Markets”, as described by ethanol pioneer Eric McAfee, CEO of Aemetis: “The value of any intermediate products produced in any process must be significantly exceeded by the value of the end product, or the end product will not be produced.”

You also might, accordingly wonder why Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia are jointly running an open market Request for Information, aiming to stimulate a renewable aviation fuel industry in Australia. Up to 200 million liters of biojet fuel per year.

For the strategic investor, Weiss ( Byogy CEO Kevin Weiss) says that “$3.80 jet fuel of 100% fully replaceable premium product, with qualities better than petroleum-derived, is cost competitive today.”

“You need abundant low cost feedstock, proven scalable tech, and chemical can be more useful than biological because of the scale-up risks. And you need a fuel that works in current infrastructure, and the higher quality the better. The costs of downstream logistics have been long underestimated, and now that people are looking at them, fully renewable fuels are looking better and better — moving beyond storage concerns, and the complexities of procurement of fossil and renewable components and all the accounting that goes with that.”

Right now, Byogy is in a process of defining a first commercial up to 300 ML per year, with under $100M price tag. Parallel with that they’re raising for a $10-$15M project “to aggressively finalize specifications for both ASTM commercial uses as well as strategic military uses. The company is evaluating potential production sites for the 1500 litre-per-day advanced fuel production and testing facility in Queensland, New South Wales, and South Australia. Bottom line, the recently revised ASTM ATJ spec focused on isobutanol as a feedstock and was limited to 30% blends.

Byogy’s planned advanced fuel testing project will be designed to produce 1500 liters per day of jet fuel from ethanol. This facility will be used to advance the ATJ ASTM specification to allow the use of full replacement fuels, and to develop military specifications for Byogy’s high performance aviation and diesel fuels. In addition, Byogy is now developing plans of establishing a commercial plant by 2019 that would produce up to 300 million liters a year at a construction cost of less than $100 million dollars.

(Converts) any form of alcohols, including ethanol, butanol, iso-butanol, and mixed alcohols, into full replacement renewable fuels, including gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. Unlike most processes that merely produce blending fuel products, Byogy is an industry leader in producing full replacement, premium fuels that do not require any infrastructure modifications or blending.

With feedstock cost representing over 65% of fuels final cost, according to Byogy — it makes sense for aviation biofuels companies to take a strategic interest in it.  We reported in 2014 that Byogy Renewables had invested in a strategic partnership with AusAgave Australia, aimed at developing multiple feedstocks to develop low-cost sugars for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals. So, what’s the latest there?

“Agave is longer term for us and will take a while,” said Weiss. “The initial metrics are extremely exciting, even disruptive, but it needs a lot of work,and study also on the value of the co-products. For example, a program at Iowa State, a biopolymer project, working with Ford on driving different opportunities to use agave fibers. And in our  partnership with MIT where we have been looking at carbon fiber and even 3D printing. We’re also looking at wastewater from fermentation, and converting vinasse to high-value food and animal feed products, even human protein. So cane is absolutely on our radar. For now, we are absolutely going after the low hanging fruit, the existing sugars.   READ MORE

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