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Call to Action for a Truly Sustainable Renewable Future
August 8, 2013 – 5:07 pm | No Comment

-Include high octane/high ethanol Regular Grade fuel in EPA Tier 3 regulations.
-Use a dedicated, self-reducing non-renewable carbon user fee to fund renewable energy R&D.
-Start an Apollo-type program to bring New Ideas to sustainable biofuel and …

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Biorefinery 2015 – The Shape of Advanced Biofuels to Come – Part II

Submitted by on March 26, 2013 – 11:02 amNo Comment

by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest)  Today in part II, we look at a new set of technologies coming along that are redefining our ideas about scale and cost.

… A barrier to long term deployment? The $11 per gallon average capital expenditure, or capex — and the average price tag of $302 million per project. It’s a tribute to the companies — and their backers — that they are able to raise the capital for first-of-kind technologies — long-term, we know that capex must come down. But how?

Low-cost paths to scale, that’s one part of the equation, for sure. There are multiple strategies for capital light deployment — and we look at them today.

Disruptive technologies with modular scale

Cool Planet:  Rethinking thermal technologies, Cool Planet has been involved with Google in developing a small-scale version of its technology. Cool Planet has what it calls a biomass fractioner. What’s that? The Cool Planet idea is essentially one of sequestration.

Instead of running the biomass over one magic catalyst in a fluidized bed reactor, and then trying to do something with the resulting pyro oil, Cool Planet’s systems is based on a series of reactions: Heat biomass into a gas, pass over a catalyst, cool into a soup of liquid molecules, pull off the ones you need (e.g. the gasoline-range molecules); then repeat the process numerous times, with different temperatures and pressures at each reactor “station” and unique catalysts, until you have converted all the volatile gases into gasoline-range molecules. You are left with a residual bio-char.

Joule:  Joule is expected to complete construction on its first commercial-scale unit down in Hobbs, New Mexico this year. CEO Bill Sims told the Digest that what you would see at Hobbs is a series of 1 meter “capsules” for converting CO2, sunlight and brackish water into target Sunflow fuels. In contrast to fermentation systems, the Joule system can start up quickly. “There’s no waiting for years. If our target for a project is 1000 modules, we can build 250 right away, and keep adding on. That derisks the technology and project for investors.”

Algenol:  Speaking of modular systems for handling sunlight, water and CO2, consider Algenol. …

“Our patented ‘Direct to Ethanol’ technology enables the production of ethanol for around $1.00 per gallon using sunlight, carbon dioxide and saltwater. The low production costs are achievable because ‘Direct to Ethanol’ technology produces high yields and relies on our patented photobioreactors and proprietary downstream techniques for the low-cost recovery and purification of ethanol. …”

Velocys:  Velocys’ technology produces commercially feasible FT fuels in the 500-5,000 barrel per day range, and with the smaller production footprint can take biomass from a smaller area, increasing the commercial returns. …

Disruptive project structures

To reduce costs — there are paths that involve not only disruptive technology — but innovative use of existing infrastructure and residue feedstock.

Bolt-ons: Gevo, Butamax, and Green Biologics are all working on bolting on biobutanol technology to existing ethanol infrastructure. …

Co-location: POET-DSM is an example of a trend — less intrusively integrated than, say, biobutanol — in this case, bringing extra capacity to an existing plant through a co-located enzymatic hydrolysis technology for making cellulosic ethanol. …

Industrial symbiosis: One of the most fundamental ways to reduce cost for advanced biofuels is, for feedstock or process heat and steam, to tap waste residues available in the long-term at negative or nominal cost. Inbicon, LanzaTech, BioProcess Algae, and Pond Biofuels are examples. …

Disruptive systems

One of the most disruptive approaches is to utilize a partner to supply renewable sugars. Years ago, it was thought that the best path to cellulosic biofuels was through vertically integrating the process — especially saccharification and fermentation combined into one step.

On the pre-treatment side, it’s become increasingly evident that producing renewable sugars as a specialized activity has a lot of merit. There are companies like Sweetwater and Renmatix that make sugars from biomass, and there are companies like Proterro that create sugars directly from CO2, sunlight, water, and nutrients. …

Disruptive pilot and demonstration costs

We’ve seen it in the pharma business. Once, early-stage companies had to build out everything on their own. Now, companies can access ready-made pilot-scale facilities — and it’s a trend that is coming to biofuels. Labs such as NREL and Lawrence Berkeley have process demonstration units that can be configured to serve a variety of processes. The hope is to make “virtual companies” possible through the pilot stage – perhaps reducing “pilot-scale” costs from, say, $10 million down to under $2 million.

Just this week, the Michigan Biotechnology Institute and Michigan State University have entered into a new collaborative arrangement, under which promising bio-based technologies will be accelerated from the laboratory to commercial deployment.

Small-scale systems

Small-scale ethanol. …

Small-scale algae systems. …

Small-scale Biodiesel. …

Small-scale Gasification. …

Small-scale Ammonia fuel. …  READ MORE and MORE (DomesticFuel.com)

 

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