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Qatar Airways looking to take up to a 10% stake in alcohol-to-jet company Byogy, along with off-take agreement

Bloomberg reports that Qatar Airways Ltd. plans to take up to a 10% stake in alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fuel company Byogy Renewables Inc., coupled with an off-take agreement. (Earlier post.) In March, Byogy announced a joint venture with Qatar Airways as well as other partnerships including a feedstock agreement with Brazilian sugar cane ethanol producer Itapecuru Bioenergia and fuel off-take terms with Brazil’s Azul Airways.

The ATJ process broadly consists of four main steps: dehydration of the alcohol; oligomerization; distillation; and hydrogenation. Alcohol is attractive as a feedstock for the production of renewable jet fuel partly because the steps required are currently in use at commercial scale in the petrochemical industry. Key to the cost-effectiveness of ATJ is reducing the production cost of the alcohol, as well as of the ATJ process itself.

Byogy says that its ATJ fuels will soon deliver a permanent cost advantage against petroleum-derived jet fuel as the cost curve to produce ethanol continues to be driven down by new technological advancements and the price of petroleum-based products continues to climb.

Qatar Airways, as an integral part of the Qatar Advanced Biofuels Platform (QABP), spent the past year reviewing Byogy’s ATJ process, prior to agreeing to the joint venture terms and supporting the global deployment of Byogy’s technology with both the proposed capital investment and off-take agreement.

We are making direct investments in key technologies that represent a solution to our future energy independence. We believe that Byogy’s technology represents the industry front runner to the most affordable, largest volume, and highest quality renewable jet fuel production.

—Dr. Chris Schroeder, Qatar Airways Senior Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility, Environment and Fuel Projects

In 2011, Byogy formed a strategic operating subsidiary in Sao Paulo Brazil, Byogy do Brasil Biocombustiveis Ltd., to leverage Brazil’s large amounts of locally produced sugar cane ethanol. The new joint venture with Itapecuru Bioenergia has a goal to be in commercial production of approximately five million gallons per year of renewable jet fuel by mid-2014. Byogy is also discussing off-take terms with one of Brazil’s leading airlines, Azul Airways, for this production volume.

Byogy has developed a patent-pending catalytic four-step process that efficiently and cost-effectively converts any ethanol directly to renewable jet fuel. The process leverages a global exclusive license that Byogy obtained from Synfuels International Inc., a Gas to Liquid (GTL) technology provider, covering the entire global “bio” space.

Byogy’s core technology started with a combination of biofuels processes that originated at Texas A&M University and expanded with an R&D and process integration effort spanning more than two years.

Our R&D, process integration, and system optimization study covered almost every possible chemical reaction and process pathway for converting biomass to biofuel. With this valuable information, we drove and funded the development of the most direct, chemically and thermally efficient route to convert ethanol to jet fuel using a portion of the Synfuels GTL platform. The successful result is proven by multiple independent published test results.

—Kevin Weiss

Byogy is working to develop a fully integrated global supply chain for bio-jet fuel.

Byogy is co-chair of the current Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) task force at American Standards for Testing Materials (ASTM), the main standards body for the global certification of jet fuel. ATJ is targeted as the next fuel to be accepted with full specifications by 2014.

Byogy has already successfully passed two tiers of testing with the United States Air Force.

The commercial aviation industry and the military are completely dependent on petroleum-derived jet fuel. We will supply the means to procure commercial quantities of certified renewable jet fuel and seed the development of a global renewable jet fuel supply chain, allowing commercial airlines and military branches to offset a portion of their current dependence on jet fuel refined from crude oil within the next 5 years.

—Kevin Weiss, president and CEO of Byogy


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