Blue Sun Project Achieves Milestone

A key development milestone has been achieved by the collaborative project between Blue Sun Energy, ARA Inc. and Chevron Lummus Global (CLG) in their 100 barrel/day (4,200 gallons/ per day) demonstration-scale Biofuels ISOCONVERSION (BIC) facility located in St. Joseph Missouri. The plant has now been commissioned and is producing biofuels.

“This is a key milestone toward commercial scale production, with initial results showing comparable system performance in the scale-up from our 4 barrel/day pilot system in Panama City, Florida to the 100 BBL/day demonstration system in St. Joseph,” said Rob Sues, CEO of ARA.

biofuel_demoAccording to press materials, the BIC process seamlessly processes renewable feedstocks such as plant oils, tallow, and waste vegetable oil into 100% drop-in diesel and jet fuels. The subsequent biofuels meet petroleum specs without blending. In addition, the naphtha produced during the process can be used as a gasoline blend stock.

Leigh Freeman, CEO of Blue Sun CEO said, “Operation of the demonstration system is critical in terms of scaling the process and technology and garnering the insights and experience needed to begin construction on our first commercial facility, which will truly be a landmark for the emerging next-generation biofuels industry.”

The team will continue to test the system with various feedstocks, including Resonance, an industrial oil feedstock from Agrisoma Biosciences as well as fatty acid distillate, distillers grain corn oil, and tallow to ensure reliable and cost effective operation. The demonstration system will be operated in campaigns to produce tens of thousands of gallons of jet fuel and diesel for certification testing, endurance testing, and test flights through the end of this year.

“We are enthusiastic about the early success that Blue Sun, CLG, and ARA have achieved at the demonstration facility in St. Joseph. Production of completely fungible jet and diesel fuels from renewable industrial oils and waste oils is a game changer,” added Leon DeBruyn, Managing Director of CLG.

Primus Green’s STG Technology Awarded Patent

Primus Green Energy has been awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its STG+ liquid fuel synthesis technology. The company says its STG+ produces high quality, cost-effective, drop-in liquid transportation fuels such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel directly from syngas derived from natural gas and other carbon-rich feedstocks in a single-loop process.

STG+ represents a cost breakthrough for the GTL industry, says the company, as it demonstrates compelling economics at scales of less than 6,000 barrels per day. The patented process is far simpler and more efficient than existing GTL technologies as it Primus STG and reactorstransforms syngas to liquid fuels with only one condensation step and also recycles untransformed gases. These efficiencies result in a high-yield process – STG+ can convert one MMBtu of natural gas into more than five gallons of 90+-octane, drop-in gasoline.

“STG+ is a new, proprietary thermochemical GTL process that fundamentally transforms the efficiency and economics of liquid fuel synthesis technologies,” said Robert Johnsen, CEO of Primus Green Energy. “The allowance of this patent application validates the novelty of the technology we have developed and proven at scale in our research facilities and commercial demonstration plant here in Hillsborough. Further, it greatly strengthens our intellectual property portfolio, an important step as we look toward construction of our first commercial GTL plant.”

In October 2013, Primus successfully commissioned its 100,000 gallon-per-year natural gas-to-gasoline demonstration plant. A recently concluded independent engineers report found that both catalyst performance and STG+ system economics exceeded expectations during demonstration plant operation. The company is now working toward construction of its first commercial plant, which is expected to produce 27.8 million gallons per year of drop-in gasoline from natural gas. The company expects to break ground on the plant in 2014.

Univ. of Tenn. Develops More Sensitive Biodiesel Sensor

Embraer_170An issue that biodiesel runs into in the jet fuel field is the lack of tolerance for ASTM D1655, the jet fuel specification at just 5 parts per million (ppm) of allowable amount of fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) contamination. Biodiesel Magazine reports while that traditional analytical equipment, such as gas chromatography, Fourier transform infrared and high-performance liquid chromatography, cannot detect levels that low, scientists at the University of Tennessee have developed a more sensitive sensor:

[R]esearchers at the University of Tennessee have developed thin-film sensors with high sensitivity toward biodiesel contamination in jet fuel. Small strips of these sensors have been tested to detect the trace biodiesel contaminant in diesel at as low as 0.5 ppm in less than 30 minutes. The sensor also gives quick response to B20 in less than five minutes and may be used with the naked eyes. The sensors, developed by UT chemistry professor Ziling Xue, are intrinsically small, easy to use, inexpensive, and can be mass-produced for disposable applications. When combined with a portable reader, the sensors can be potentially used as a compact portable device for field applications. The university is seeking partners to commercialize the technology.

According to the article, another track in the biodiesel-jet fuel saga is getting a higher contamination tolerance allowed. Officials with the National Biodiesel Board make the case that allowing a higher level of biodiesel in the ASTM specifications for jet fuel than 5 ppm will make it much easier for pipelines to manage shipments of biodiesel blends in a manner that ensures jet fuel will always meet the specifications. In addition, the U.K.-based Energy Institute wants to test biodiesel at 400 ppm, four times the proposed allowable limit.

Abengoa Inaugurates First Waste-to-Biofuels Plant

Abengoa has inaugurated its demonstration plant that uses Waste-to-Biofuels (W2B) technology. The plant has a capacity to treat 25,000 tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) from which it will obtain up to 1.5 million liters of bioethanol for use as fuel.

The demonstration plant located in Babilafuente (Salamanca, Spain) and uses W2B technology developed by Abengoa to produce second-generation biofuels from MSW using a fermentation and enzymatic Abengoa Salamanca-1-large_300hydrolysis treatment. During the transformation process, the organic matter is treated in various ways to produce organic fiber that is rich in cellulose and hemicellulose, which is subsequently converted into bioethanol.

Abengoa says the the production of bioethanol from municipal solid waste is a major technological breakthrough in the waste management model, since it increases the recovery rate, minimizes the carbon footprint and generates major benefits for society. The company says the fuel produced from its plant will reduce greenhouse gas emissions per kilometer travelled by 70 percent. In addition, Abengoa’s technology maximizes the recovery of the organic fraction of the MSW and  prevents more than 80 percent of the waste ending up in landfill.

During the opening, Manuel Sánchez Ortega, CEO of Abengoa said, “This plant once again highlights Abengoa’s commitment to technological research and innovation, which has enabled it to maintain a competitive advantage in its sectors, leading projects with huge technological potential and programs that involve world-leading research centers and strategic partners.”

The bioethanol produced at the W2B plant has multiple uses such as an additive for gasoline, increasing its octane rating; as fuel for cars; for use in the chemicals and pharmaceutical industry (in solvents or cosmetics, for example), and even as an intermediate product in producing jet fuel.

DOE Announces Biofuels Funding

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced funding for four research and development projects to bring next generation biofuels on line faster and drive down the cost of producing gasoline, diesel and jet fuels from biomass. The announcement comes less than a week after President Obama’s commitment to the climate and efforts to cut carbon pollution. In total, the projects in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin will receive $13 million in funding.

US DOE logo“By partnering with private industry, universities and our national labs, we can increase America’s energy security, bolster rural economic development and cut harmful carbon pollution from our cars, trucks and planes,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “As the President made clear in his plan to cut carbon pollution, partnerships like these will help move our economy towards cleaner, more efficient forms of energy that lower our reliance on foreign oil.”

In the United States, the transportation sector accounts for two-thirds of total U.S. oil consumption and one-third of our nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Hydrocarbon-based biofuels made from non-food feedstocks, waste materials and algae can directly replace gasoline and other fuels in our gas tanks and refineries. The Energy Department continues to take steps to speed the development of clean, renewable biofuels, with the goal of producing cost-competitive drop-in biofuels at $3 per gallon by 2017.

The research projects announced today build on the Obama Administration’s broader efforts to accelerate the next generation of biofuels by bringing down costs, improving performance and identifying effective, non-food feedstocks and conversion technologies. These projects will help maximize the amount of renewable carbon and hydrogen that can be converted to fuels from biomass and improve the separation processes in bio-oil production to remove non-fuel components – further lowering production costs.

The projects selected for negotiation include:

  • Ceramatec – up to $3.3 million, based in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory – up to $2.1 million, based in Oak Ridge, Tennessee
  • University of Oklahoma, up to $4 million, based in Norman, Oklahoma
  • Virent, Inc. – up to $4 million, based in Madison, Wisconsin

RINs Could Be Key to Aviation Biofuels Viability

epa-logoThe Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision that makes aviation biofuel, better known as biojet, eligible for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) could make those green fuels viable for the aviation industry. This piece from Platts says the aviation industry could qualify for D4 biodiesel, D5 advanced biofuel or D7 cellulosic diesel RINs, despite jet fuel being exempt from RINs obligations.

“The availability of RINs is a critical bridge to commercial viability,” Nancy Young, vice president of environmental affairs for US airline trade group Airlines for America, said in a recent interview.

“It means there is an economic value assigned to the renewable content in jet fuel that can help the producer of that fuel get closer to the price of traditional jet fuel,” Young said…

But with supplies of biojet still extremely limited, most industry goals are still modest. Airplane manufacturer Boeing, for instance, wants biojet to account for 1% of the industry’s 600 million gallons/year of jet fuel consumption by 2015.

The aviation industry, biofuels producers and the federal government have been investing in research to bring down the cost of making biojet, as well as financing more refineries.

Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council, said RINs are key to that.

“What the RIN value does is it creates an incentive to buy and trade this fuel,” he said. “The whole reason we need the RFS is because we can show up with a cheaper better fuel, but it doesn’t necessarily get it into the marketplace because it’s so vertically integrated. RINs make sure the renewable fuel is used in an economically efficient way.”

The article goes on to say that the increasing costs of biodiesel RINs could end up causing trouble for biojet.

Senate Spending Bill Keeps Military Biofuels

navy-biofuelsThe U.S. Senate yesterday passed a continuing budget resolution that would keep the federal government operating through the end of the fiscal year on September 30th and keep funding for advanced biofuels testing in the military.

By a vote of 40-59, the Senate rejected an amendment from Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA) that would have transferred $60 million in funding for military biofuels testing to increase Defense Department operations and maintenance funding. Toomey said in a press release he was very disappointed in his colleagues who “would rather spend taxpayer dollars on more wasteful biofuel subsidies than support essential maintenance operations for our military.”

Adam Monroe, president of advanced biofuels company Novozymes, praised the Senate for continuing its support of the Navy’s advanced biofuels program. “Every day we import oil, we’re putting our troops, families and country at needless risk. We can reduce that risk with a secure energy supply, including renewable fuels,” said Monroe. Last year, Novozymes opened an advanced manufacturing plant in Blair, Nebraska which specializes in enzymes for both the conventional and advanced biofuel markets.

The Senate spending bill was approved 73-26 and now goes to the House.

Biofuel Flights Take Air from New York

KLM biofuel flightKLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) in partnership with Schiphol Group, Delta Air Lines and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, have begun a 25-week series of biofuel powered international flights. Last week A KLM B777-200 fueled in part by biofuel derived from cooking oil, departed from JFK International Airport and landed in Schiphol Amsterdam Airport. According to KLM, carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft account for more than half of all airport-related emissions and the use of biofuels are expected to reduce CO2 emissions.

“I am proud that KLM is once again demonstrating its leading role in developing sustainable biofuel,” said Camiel Eurlings, KLM’s Managing Director. “For eight years in a row, KLM, together with Air France, has been sector leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Alongside this biofuel series, we are starting a study to further identify sustainability gains in fuel, weight and carbon dioxide reduction throughout the entire flight process.

“We are striving to achieve the ‘optimal flight’ together with research institutes, suppliers, airports, and air traffic control. We are combining new and existing technology, processes, and efficiency initiatives to achieve this,” Eurlings concluded.

One challenge the aviation industry has faced is small volumes of aviation biofuels packaged with high costs for the fuel. Continue reading

ARA and Blue Sun Energy to Partner

Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) and Blue Sun Energy, Inc. will be partnering for the design, construction and operation of a biofuels ISOCONVERSION Process (BIC) demonstration system using the ARA and Chevron Lummus Global (CLG) process for the production of certification quantities of 100 percent drop-in renewable jet, diesel and gasoline. The demonstration facility is scheduled for ground breaking in St. Joseph, Missouri in the first quarter of 2013 and will be operational in the third quarter of 2013.

According to ARA, CLG and their Biofuels ISOCONVERSION process produces fuels which are ready to use, without blending, in turbine and diesel engines designed to operate on petroleum-based fuels. The low-cost process converts any non-edible fats and oils directly into high-density aromatic, cycloparaffin, and isoparaffin hydrocarbons that are ideal for drop-in jet (JP-5, JP-8 and Jet A) and diesel (ASTM D 975 and F-76 Naval Distillate) fuels.

ARA and Blue Sun Partnership“The scale up of the Biofuels ISOCONVERSION process with our partners at Blue Sun will allow us to take a significant step toward commercial scale production of 100% drop-in fuels at prices competitive with petroleum in the 2015 timeframe,” said Chuck Red, ARA’s Biofuels Program Manager. “The hundred barrels-per-day demonstration system will be capable of producing large fuel samples, a key enabler for ASTM certification of our fuels.”

The Secretary of the Navy has set energy goals that include achieving 50 percent of energy consumption from alternative sources by 2015 for non-tactical uses and by 2020 for Navy-wide uses. To achieve the goal, the Navy has tested biofuels for both jets and ships.

“This partnership aligns perfectly with Department of Defense goals for production of alternative fuels,” said Leigh Freeman, CEO of Blue Sun. “The skill sets and experience of Blue Sun and ARA cover all aspects required to deliver renewable jet and diesel at DoD cost targets, on DoD timelines.”

Blue Sun also operates a biodiesel facility in Saint Joseph, Missouri, and has completed capital investments and the final steps to commercialize a new enzymatic processing technology. Blue Sun says its technology will produce the highest quality fuel from any feedstock at the lowest production costs in the U.S.

This December Head to Canada

This December head to Ottawa, Canada for the 9th Annual Canadian Renewable Fuels Summit (CRFS) being held December 3-5, 2012. This year’s theme, “Sustainable, Secure & Diverse Energy Now!” will focus on Canadian policy for the ethanol and biodiesel industries.

Program topics include: The Future of the Bioeconomy in Canada; Forces Shaping the North America Biodiesel Industry; Ensuring Market Opportunities and Fuel Quality Throughout the Supply Chain; Dedicated Crop Opportunities for Drop-In Renewable Jet Fuel; Industry Perspectives on Next Generation Production in Canada; and Updates from International Sustainability & Carbon Certification Association (ISCC) and Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).

Conference keynote speakers include: Chantal Hébert, Columnist for the Toronto Star; Mark Jaccard, Professor, Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University; Senator JoAnne L. Buth, Senate of Canada; and many more.

Click here to learn more about this year’s program and to register online.

ReadiJet Fuel Ready for the Skies

ReadiJet Fuel, a drop-in renewable fuel for aviation use, is ready to fly the skies. Developer Applied Research Associates (ARA) along with Chevron Lummus Global (CLG), are partnering with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory to evaluate the fuel in flight. The fuel, produced under contract to AFRL, was produced by ARA from Agrisoma’s Resonance feedstock crop (mustard oilseed family) using CLG’s and ARA’s Biofuel ISOCONVERSION process.

The jet fuel will first be tested by ARA and NRC against ASTM standards and military specifications in ground based engine tests. Once ReadiJet is given the green light, a test flight will occur with the NRC Falcon-20 twin engine jet. According to ARA, this will be the first time in the world a jet aircraft is powered by 100%, un-blended, renewable jet fuel that meets petroleum jet fuel specifications.

“The integrated ARA/CLG Biofuel ISOCONVERSION process and Agrisoma’s Resonance feedstock provide a pathway for fulfilling the commercial and military markets’ requirements for alternative fuels at parity with petroleum while spurring opportunities for farmers,” said Chuck Red, ARA’s Alternative Fuels Program Lead. “We look forward to this partnership with NRC to help us validate the combination of Canadian developed and grown feedstocks and our processing technology as a leading alternative fuel solution.”

During the test flight a second aircraft, the National Research Council’s T33 jet, will fly behind the Falcon 20 to measure the emissions of the engine operating on both the ReadiJet biofuel and on conventional petroleum-based aviation fuel. Systems onboard the Falcon 20 will allow NRC’s flight research team to switch back and forth between the two fuel types throughout the flight. These data will be used to evaluate biojet fuel emissions of an aircraft engine operating on 100% biofuel. The end goal is to validate the jet fuel for use by the aviation industry.

New Investments to Drive Biofuels Innovations

USDAThe U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy Wednesday announced a $41 million investment in 13 projects designed to drive more efficient biofuels production and feedstock improvements.

“If we want to develop affordable alternatives for oil and gasoline that will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we need investments like these projects to spur innovation in bioenergy,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By producing energy more efficiently and sustainably, we can create rural jobs, boost rural economies and help U.S. farmers, ranchers and foresters prosper.”

Five projects will be funded through the joint Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) to develop economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass and increase the availability of renewable fuels and biobased products. Those projects include $4.25 million for the Quad County Corn Cooperative in Galva, Iowa to retrofit an existing corn starch ethanol plant to add value to its byproducts, which will be marketed to the non-ruminant feed markets and to the biodiesel industry.

Agricultural Research Service’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois will receive $7 million for a project to optimize rapeseed/canola, mustard and camelina oilseed crops for oil quality and yield using recombinant inbred lines. The oils will be hydrotreated to produce diesel and jet fuel.

A $6 million project at the University of Hawaii will optimize the production of grasses in Hawaii, including napier grass, energycane, sugarcane and sweet sorghum. Harvest and preprocessing will be optimized to be compatible with the biochemical conversion to jet fuel and diesel.

More information on the projects funded can be found here from USDA.

Biofuels Play Major Role in Great Green Fleet Exercise

Biofuels are playing a significant role in the biggest maritime exercise in the world. About 450,000 gallons of biofuels made from non-food stocks have been used to fuel the ships and aircraft, known as the “Great Green Fleet,” taking part in the U.S. Navy’s and allied nation’s Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC).

“Yesterday, off the coast of Hawaii, was a great day for the Navy and a great day for America. It marked some serious steps to take us on the road toward energy security and energy independence,” says Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. He notes advanced biofuels were seamlessly integrated into the operations, which included typical fighter jet flying and refuelings and ship-to-ship underway refuelings. “Absolutely no modifications were required or made to any of the engines that were burning biofuels.”

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack echoes those sentiments in this demonstration of U.S. military might and leadership. “It’s not just leadership to make us more secure from a national security or energy security standpoint. It’s also leadership for economic opportunities in rural areas.” Vilsack adds this use of American-made biofuels plays right into the bio-based economy, providing 400,000 jobs in the U.S., expected to go even higher when the full Renewable Fuels Standard is met.

Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Heather Zichal adds that this use of biofuels demonstrates to the world that the U.S. Navy is leading the way. “[The Navy] is sending a clear message that we cannot keep doing what we have done in the past. We cannot be timid about embracing new forms of energy, like biofuels, that have the potential to strengthen our energy security and reduce the military’s dependence on oil.”

Listen to the full press conference here: Press Conference on use of biofuels during RIMPAC

USDA, GE Combine Efforts for Biofuels for Jets in Ohio

The USDA and General Electric are a couple of the key collaborators on a biofuels for jets program at GE Aviation’s Cincinnati-area facilities. During remarks at an event today, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack highlighted the work, along with the Ohio Aerospace Institute, air carriers and producer groups, to develop a Midwest-regional strategy to provide renewable-jet fuel in Ohio:

“We have an incredible opportunity to create thousands of new jobs and drive economic development in rural communities across America by developing innovative ways to use agricultural products to help reduce our reliance on foreign oil,” said Vilsack. “USDA’s collaboration with General Electric Aviation will bring together multiple sectors of Ohio’s economy, including agricultural producers, to foster new innovations in the field of renewable fuels while bolstering new economic opportunities in the Midwest. USDA is proud to work alongside private and public institutions to support the research, creation and distribution of next generation energy solutions.”

USDA is also working with the Ohio Soybean Council by awarding the group a Value Added Producer Grant for a pilot project through Ohio State University’s Bioproducts Innovation Center to refine bio-jet fuel from soybean oil, as well as the Farm Service Agency working with producers in northeastern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania through the agency’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). Other efforts include working with the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of the Navy and the Federal Aviation Administration for renewable fuels.

GE Aviation expects to buy up to 5 million gallons of renewable-jet fuel beginning in 2015.

Brazil Boasts Successful Biofuels Flight

Amyris, Inc. provided a renewable jet fuel blend derived from Brazilian sugarcane to Azul Brazilian Airlines who boasted a successful test flight. The Embraer E195 jet took flight from Campinas Viracopos Airport, flew over Rio De Janeiro, where the U.N. Conference for Sustainable Development (RIO +20), and landed at Rio’s Santos Dumont Airport.

Known as Azul+Verde (“a greener blue” in Portuguese), this project began in November 2009 with the goal of developing a cleaner, greener fuel as an alternative to fossil fuels.

“Azul’s commitment to reducing our dependency on volatile petroleum products goes beyond reducing our costs. The main objective is to innovate in our service offerings, using the best technologies to reduce our carbon footprint as well as raise awareness among our customers that they are not just choosing an airline that is merely concerned about the environment but is taking steps to preserve it,” said Flavio Costa, Chief Operating Officer of Azul Airlines.

A lifecycle analysis and sustainability study developed by a Brazilian think-tank, Institute for International Trade Negotiations (ICONE), indicates that the Amyris renewable jet fuel could reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 82%, when compared to convention fossil-derived jet fuel.

Amyris’s renewable jet fuel has been designed to be compliant with Jet A/A-1 fuel specifications. To that end, we have successfully undertaken a series of tests that measure its performance,” said John Melo, President & Chief Executive Officer of Amyris. “This demonstration flight caps a major milestone in our jet fuel program and allow us to pursue our certification and commercialization goals,” Melo concluded.