Progress toward commercializing the GTI IH2 thermochemical process for drop-in hydrocarbon fuels
21 August 2012
|Automated, continuous IH2 pilot plant, 50 kg/day biomass feed. Source: GTI. Click to enlarge.|
At the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), Gas Technology Institute (GTI) scientist Dr. Martin Linck provided an update on the progress toward commercializing the GTI Integrated Hydropyrolysis and Hydroconversion (IH2) process, with a presentation of new data on IH2 developed from a continuous 50 kg/day pilot plant. (Earlier post.)
IH2 is a new thermochemical process that employs a catalyzed fluidized bed hydropyrolysis step followed by an integrated hydroconversion step to directly convert biomass into high-quality, fungible hydrocarbon fuels. IH2 derived fuels contain less than 1% oxygen and are completely compatible with petroleum-derived fuels.
IH2 technology involves use of internally generated hydrogen and a series of proprietary catalysts. The process uses as its feedstock virtually any kind of nonfood biomass material—including wood, cornstalks and cobs, algae, aquatic plants and municipal solid waste—and produces gasoline, jet fuel or diesel fuel.
Linck and colleagues had earlier published a paper in the journal Environ. Prog. Sustainable Energy presenting experimental data from their 0.45 kg/h semi-continuous IH2 pilot plant. The smaller plant can produce 72-157 gallons of fuel per ton of dry, ash-free feedstock, depending on feedstock type.
These results are essential in establishing the credibility of a process that may seem too good to be within the realm of possibility. However, we are moving steadily toward having multiple demonstration-scale facilities in operation by 2014, with each facility producing a range of 3,500-17,500 gallons of fuel a day from non-food plant material. We will be designing commercial-scale facilities that could produce as much as 300,000 gallons per day from the same kinds of feedstocks.—Martin Linck
Based on assessments by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., IH2 technology has the capability to produce gasoline at a cost of less than $2.00 per gallon, Linck said.
Linck’s ACS presentation focused on experimental descriptions and yield data, demonstrating that the performance of the larger, continuously operated plant is in line with results obtained on the smaller, semi-continuous plant.
GTI has licensed the IH2 technology to CRI Catalyst Company (CRI), in Houston, Texas. (Earlier post.) CRI has exclusive sub-licensing rights to the process and is working with multiple customers wishing to build several demonstration units that can convert between 40 and 200 tons of biomass a day.
GTI anticipates full-scale commercial plants converting 2,000 tons a day will be operating by 2014. Such a plant could produce more than 300,000 gallons of fuel a day, if the larger scale plants operate at the same efficiency as the pilot plants.
Full commercial scale will be dependent on client location and feedstock specifics. Our preliminary engineering estimates are using 2,000 ton per day of feedstock, but this will depend on feedstock type. For example, municipal solid waste plants may be smaller, and plants converting wood may be larger.—Martin Linck
GTI’s funding and other support has come from the U.S. Department of Energy (EERE Office of Biomass Program), CRI Catalyst Company, Cargill, Johnson Timber Corporation, Parabel, Aquaflow Bionomic Corporation, Blue Marble Biomaterials, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Michigan Technological University.
Marker, T. L., Felix, L. G., Linck, M. B. and Roberts, M. J. (2012), Integrated hydropyrolysis and hydroconversion (IH2) for the direct production of gasoline and diesel fuels or blending components from biomass, part 1: Proof of principle testing. Environ. Prog. Sustainable Energy, 31: 191–199. doi: 10.1002/ep.10629
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