Sundrop Fuels, Inc., a gasification-based drop-in advanced biofuels company (earlier post), is partnering with ThyssenKrupp Uhde for its inaugural biogasoline production facility near Alexandria, Louisiana (earlier post).
Sundrop Fuels will convert sustainable forest residues and thinnings as feedstock combined with natural gas into bio-based “green gasoline” by using a commercially-proven production path that integrates gasification, gas purification, methanol synthesis and a methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) process. As a key element to this first facility, Sundrop Fuels will deploy ThyssenKrupp Uhde’s High Temperature Winkler (HTW) gasification process, coupled with other well-established technologies for gas cleanup, methanol synthesis, and the ExxonMobil methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) conversion.
The Winkler gasifier uses one of the oldest gasification technologies, according to the US National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). The process was developed in 1926 by Rheinbraun AG in Germany for lignite coal; in the 1970s, Rheinbraun (now RWE) improved the process by operating the gasifier at a higher temperature to increase the carbon conversion and to improve of the quality of the syngas produced.
The HTW process can convert a broad range of feedstocks—including biomasses or municipal waste—into syngas. RWE is still responsible for continued development of the HTW process, but Uhde GmbH of Germany has undertaken the marketing and exclusive licensing of the technology.
Within the plant, Sundrop Fuels will demonstrate its proprietary process for biomass conversion incorporating the company’s patented RP (radiant particle) Reactor, an ultra-high-temperature technology that Sundrop claims generates the highest fuel energy yield per ton of biomass of any biofuels process available.
The RP Reactor process is similar to conventional biomass gasification except for the major difference of using radiation heat transfer rapidly to drive the extremely high temperatures needed to create the syngas that is then converted into advanced biofuels. The radiation-driven biomass gasifier generates temperatures of more than 1,300 °C (2,372 °F). (The gasification temperature of the HTW gasifier is 700 – 950 °C.)
The collaboration follows signing of a comprehensive “Front End Engineering and Licensing Agreement” between Sundrop Fuels and Uhde Corporation of America, a unit of ThyssenKrupp USA Inc. More than 70 engineers from the two companies are now working together to complete designs for the Sundrop Fuels plant, which should begin construction late this year.
The Alexandria plant will yield up to 50 million gallons of renewable gasoline annually while also serving as proving ground for Sundrop Fuels’ proprietary biomass conversion technologies that will be used for future large-scale facilities.
Sundrop Fuels plans to follow its first facility with larger-scale fuels plants producing nearly 300 million gallons annually, with a combined production capacity of more than one billion gallons by 2020.
ThyssenKrupp Uhde is a world leader in coal and biomass gasification. Its proprietary HTW fluidized-bed and PRENFLO entrained-flow gasification technologies convert almost any feedstock including biomass into a wide variety of products including fuels and industrial chemicals.
Significant backing for Sundrop Fuels comes from Chesapeake Energy Corporation, the largest producer of natural gas in northern Louisiana’s Haynesville Shale Field and second-largest producer in the nation. Chesapeake invested $155 million in Sundrop Fuels in mid-2011. The company’s investors also include Oak Investment Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers.