U Alberta spin-off Forge Hydrocarbons commercializing pyrolytic lipids-to-hydrocarbons process
14 October 2013
|Simplified process flow of LTH. Click to enlarge.|
A University of Alberta spinoff company, Forge Hydrocarbons, is commercializing a patented lipids-to-hydrocarbons (LTH) process developed by David Bressler, a researcher in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences. The process takes agricultural feedstocks such as animal fat, crop seed oil and restaurant grease, and converts them into drop-in liquid hydrocarbon fuels. The process also converts the same agricultural feedstocks into solvents and diluents.
Bressler’s process first hydrolyzes the feedstock with water in a reactor to produce a mixture of free fatty acids and glycerol. The fatty acids are separated from the glycerol and water, and then pyrolized to produce deoxygenated hydrocarbon liquids. Further processing converts the hydrocarbon liquid into the desired fuel such as gasoline, natural gas, jet fuel, diesel, lubricating oil, solvents or diluents.
Bressler calculates that production of these drop-in fuels reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 90% compared with production of traditional petroleum-based hydrocarbons.
Bressler made his initial discovery in 2004 with funding from an NSERC Discovery grant. Since then, he has received more than $4.9 million from a variety of funders to pursue the research and commercialize the technology.
The company received one of two University of Alberta Spinoff Achievement Awards from TEC Edmonton during its official launch at a ceremony attended by Verlyn Olson, minister of agriculture and rural development, and the Honorable Michelle Rempel, minister of state for western economic diversification.
A pre-commercial plant using the company’s patented conversion process is now being commissioned in Agri-Food Discovery Place on the University of Alberta’s South Campus. With a capacity to produce 200,000 liters a year, it will be operational by the end of the year. The following phase of the company’s evolution will be a full-scale commercial plant.
Funders for the project during the last decade include Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education, Alberta Innovates – Bio Solutions, the Alberta Meat and Livestock Agency, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Forge Hydrocarbons, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the University of Alberta and Western Economic Diversification.
The new CEO of Forge Hydrocarbons is Tim Haig, the entrepreneur who started BIOX, Canada’s biggest and most successful renewable fuel plant, based on a then-breakthrough technology he acquired and commercialized from the University of Toronto. He ran that company for 12 years.
Kelly D. Maher, Kathlyn M. Kirkwood, Murray R. Gray, and David C. Bressler (2008) “Pyrolytic Decarboxylation and Cracking of Stearic Acid”, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 47 (15), 5328-5336 doi: 10.1021/ie0714551
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference U Alberta spin-off Forge Hydrocarbons commercializing pyrolytic lipids-to-hydrocarbons process: