[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
USDA closes on $105M loan guarantee to Fulcrum for biorefinery converting municipal waste to renewable jet fuel; first USDA loan for biojet
September 04, 2014
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has closed on a $105-million Biorefinery Assistance Program loan guarantee through Bank of America, N.A. to Fulcrum Sierra Biofuels, LLC to build a biorefinery to produce jet fuel from municipal solid waste (MSW) via a proprietary two-stage thermochemical process. (Earlier post.)
USDA Rural Development’s loan guarantee represents less than half of the $266 million project cost. The plant is expected to produce 11 million gallons of fuel annually. This is the first loan guarantee USDA has made for the production of bio jet fuel.
OCM company Siluria pulls in $30M in D round led by Saudi Aramco; methane to fuels and chemicals
August 20, 2014
Siluria Technologies, a pioneer in the commercialization of an oxidative coupling of methane (OCM) technology to produce ethylene from natural gas (earlier post), announced the initial close of its Series D financing round. The round was led by Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV), the venture investment subsidiary of Saudi Aramco and included additional investments by all of the major existing investors in Siluria. The total raise for this initial close of the Series D financing was $30 million.
With this initial Series D financing, Siluria has raised just under $100 million since its inception. Siluria is currently in discussions with additional strategic and financial investors to complete a total Series D financing of approximately $50 million.
Calysta reports 8-fold improvement in gas fermentation in ARPA-E program; BioGTL
July 10, 2014
Calysta, Inc. reported that it has achieved 8-fold improved performance over traditional fermentation technologies in a high mass transfer bioreactor. The bioreactor technology is under development for efficient methane-to-liquids fermentation processes, enabling rapid, cost-effective methane conversion into protein, industrial chemicals and fuels. (Earlier post.)
The improved performance was achieved in the research phase of a program funded in part by the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program under the REMOTE program (Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy), awarded in September 2013. (Earlier post.) Calysta develops sustainable industrial products using novel natural gas conversion technology using methane.
Researchers propose CO2 recycling to improve Fischer-Tropsch GTL efficiency and reduce total CO2 emissions
June 21, 2014
|Overview of the CUGP processes. Credit: ACS, Zhang et al. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers in South Korea are suggesting two new carbon-dioxide-utilized Gas-to-Liquids processes (CUGP) to increase the overall efficiency of conventional Fischer-Tropsch GTL. In a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they report that the two CUGP options increase carbon efficiency by 21.1−41.3% and thermal efficiency by 15.7−40.7%, with total CO2 emissions reduced by 82.0−88.4%, compared to different conventional F-T processes.
This results in a decrease in total CO2 emissions to less than 5g CO2/MJ F-T product, compared to a range of 27.0 to 36.2g CO2/MJ F-T product for the conventional processes.
Study suggests GTL blending could increase overall US refinery efficiency by improving diesel efficiency
June 20, 2014
|Impact of GTL diesel blending (5% penetration relative to refinery crude input) on US average overall refinery efficiency. Credit: ACS, Forman et al. Click to enlarge.|
A team from Sasol Synfuels, Jacobs Consultancy and Argonne National Laboratory has used results from a US industry-wide linear programming (LP) modeling study of individual US refineries to examine the impacts of a number of significant and looming changes—such as shifts in refinery crude slates; regional and seasonal variation; gasoline/diesel (G/D) production ratio; and GTL diesel blending—on US refinery, unit, and product efficiencies. (LP is the the primary tool for analysis and optimization in the refining industry.)
Results of their study, which appear in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, suggest that refinery and product-specific efficiency values are sensitive to crude quality; seasonal and regional factors; and refinery configuration and complexity—which in turn are determined by final fuel specification requirements and regulations. Additional processing of domestically sourced tight light oil could marginally increase refinery efficiency, but these benefits could be offset by crude rebalancing, they found.
DOE releases five-year strategic plan, 2014-2018; supporting “all of the above” energy strategy
April 08, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) released its five-year 2014-2018 Strategic Plan. The plan is organized into 12 strategic objectives aimed at three distinct goals: Science and Energy; Nuclear Security; and Management and Performance. These objectives represent broad cross-cutting and collaborative efforts across DOE headquarters, site offices, and national laboratories.
The overarching goal for Science and Energy is: “Advance foundational science, innovate energy technologies, and inform data driven policies that enhance US economic growth and job creation, energy security, and environmental quality, with emphasis on implementation of the President’s Climate Action Plan to mitigate the risks of and enhance resilience against climate change.” Under that, the plan sketches out 3 strategic goals:
Synthetic biology company launches JV to commercialize gas-to-liquids bioconversion; isobutanol first target
March 28, 2014
Synthetic biology company Intrexon Corporation has formed Intrexon Energy Partners (IEP), a joint venture with a group of external investors, to optimize and to scale-up Intrexon’s gas-to-liquids (GTL) bioconversion platform. IEP’s first target product is isobutanol for gasoline blending.
Intrexon’s natural gas upgrading program is targeting the development of an engineered microbial cell line for industrial-scale bioconversion of natural gas to chemicals, lubricants and fuels, as opposed to employing standard chemical routes. Intrexon says it has already achieved initial proof of concept with an engineered microbial host converting methane into isobutanol in a laboratory-scale bioreactor.
Velocys, Waste Management, NRG Energy and Ventech form JV for small-scale gas-to-liquids plants
March 24, 2014
Velocys plc, a developer of smaller-scale microchannel gas-to-liquids (GTL) technology, has entered a joint venture (JV) with Waste Management, NRG Energy (NRG), and Ventech Engineers International (Ventech) to develop gas-to-liquids (GTL) plants in the United States and other select geographies.
The JV will pursue the development of multiple plants utilizing a combination of renewable biogas (including landfill gas) and natural gas. Waste Management intends to supply renewable gas and, in certain cases, project sites. All four members will work exclusively through the JV to pursue the intended application (GTL using renewable gas, optionally in conjunction with natural gas) in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and China.
Siluria Technologies unveils new development unit for liquid fuels from natural gas based on OCM and ETL technologies
March 21, 2014
Siluria Technologies, the developer of novel bio-templated catalysts for the economic direct conversion of methane (CH4) to ethylene (C2H4) (earlier post), unveiled a development unit for producing liquid fuels from natural gas based on Siluria’s proprietary oxidative coupling of methane (OCM) and ethylene-to-liquid (ETL) technologies.
Together, Siluria’s OCM and ETL technologies form a unique and efficient process for transforming methane into gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other liquid fuels. Unlike the high-temperature, high-pressure cracking processes employed today to produce fuels and chemicals, Siluria’s process employs catalytic processes to create longer-chain, higher-value materials, thereby significantly reducing operating costs and capital.
Researchers develop new lower-temperature process for conversion of natural gas alkanes to alcohols
March 14, 2014
Researchers from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and Brigham Young University have devised a new and more efficient method to convert natural gas into liquid products at much lower temperatures than conventional methods.
Their work, reported in the journal Science, uses main-group metals such as thallium and lead to oxidize methane and the other alkanes contained in natural gas (ethane and propane) to liquid alcohols at about 180 °C instead of the more than 500 °C used in current processes, said SRI Professor Roy Periana, who led the research. This creates the potential to produce fuels and chemicals at much lower cost.
Shell producing base oil from natural gas for motor oils
March 08, 2014
Shell announced the production of the first clear base oil—the main component of motor oils—made from natural gas using its gas-to-liquids (GTL) PurePlus Technology. Shell PurePlus Technology is now being used to create motor oils for motorists in the United States. Pennzoil Platinum and Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Full Synthetic motor oils are the only ones blended exclusively with these GTL base oils.
Shell PurePlus Technology base oil is manufactured at the Pearl GTL facility in Ras Laffan in Qatar, a partnership between Qatar Petroleum and Shell. Shell PurePlus base oil is clear due to having fewer of the impurities found in crude oil. The Shell GTL and the Shell PurePlus base oil manufacturing processes have been the subject of multiple patents.
Primus Green Energy’s STG+ patent for liquid fuel synthesis from syngas approved
February 05, 2014
Primus Green Energy Inc., an alternative fuel company that converts natural gas and other feedstocks directly into drop-in transportation fuels and solvents (earlier post), announced that its patent application covering its STG+ liquid fuel synthesis technology has been allowed by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). STG+ produces high-quality, cost-effective, drop-in liquid transportation fuels directly from syngas derived from natural gas and other carbon-rich feedstocks in a single-loop process.
STG+ essentially improves upon commercial methanol synthesis processes and ExxonMobil’s methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) process, combining them into an integrated, optimized system that efficiently converts syngas directly to fuels. In addition to the gasoline product, the STG+ process can also produce jet fuel, diesel and high-value chemicals by changing the catalysts and operating conditions. The company, which is currently producing synthetic gasoline at its demonstration plant (earlier post), plans to build several more reactors in parallel to the current production train for other fuel products.
Sasol, GE develop new anaerobic microbial technology for cleaning of Fischer-Tropsch waste water; boosting gas-to-liquids (GTL) value proposition
November 06, 2013
Sasol and General Electric (GE: NYSE)’s GE Power & Water have together developed new technology that will clean waste water from Fischer-Tropsch plants used to produce synthetic fuels and chemicals, while also providing biogas as a by-product for power generation. The new Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor Technology (AnMBR) will be further developed at a new demonstration plant at Sasol’s R&D Campus at its Sasol One Site in Sasolburg, South Africa.
AnMBR involves anaerobic micro-organisms that are able to live in environments devoid of oxygen, such as sediment layers on floors of lakes, dams and the ocean. Sasol currently uses aerobic microbes to treat GTL and coal-to-liquids (CTL) effluents in ORYX GTL, Qatar and Synfuels, Secunda facilities.
Pinto Energy to build 2,800 bpd small-scale GTL plant in Ashtabula; Velocys microchannel technology
September 23, 2013
Pinto Energy LLC (Pinto), a developer of smaller scale Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) facilities, will build a 2,800 barrel per day (bpd) GTL plant at Pinto’s 80-acre industrial site to the east of Ashtabula, Ohio. The plant will convert abundant low-cost natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shale region into high-value specialty products (solvents, lubricants and waxes), as well as transportation fuels.
Pinto has chosen to utilize Velocys Plc (Velocys) Fischer-Tropsch microchannel reactor technology. (Velocys is part of the Oxford Catalysts Group plc; Oxford Catalysts is changing its name to Velocys plc on 25 September 2013.) Velocys advanced catalysts and proprietary microchannel reactors offer unparalleled efficiencies for GTL projects today, Pinto said. The company has agreed to commercial license terms with Velocys and made a down payment towards the FT reactors.
ARPA-E awarding $3.5M to Berkeley Lab project to develop novel enzymatic gas-to-liquids pathway
September 22, 2013
On 19 September, the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) awarded $34 million to 15 projects to find advanced biocatalyst technologies that can convert natural gas to liquid fuel for transportation. (Earlier post.) The largest award in the technical area of High-Efficiency Biological Methane Activation in the new program, (Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy—REMOTE, earlier post), provides $3.5 million to a team led by Dr. Christer Jansson at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) to work on a novel methylation process to convert natural gas to liquid transportation fuels.
The project, called “Enzyme Engineering for Direct Methane Conversion,” involves designing a novel enzyme—a PEP methyltransferase (PEPMase)—by engineering an existing enzyme to accept methane instead of carbon dioxide. This methylation process, which does not exist in nature, will be used as the basis for the gas-to-liquids pathway.
ARPA-E selects 33 projects for $66M in awards; advanced biocatalysts for gas-to-liquids and lightweight metals
September 19, 2013
The US Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) is awarding around $66 million to 33 projects under two new programs. One program, Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy (REMOTE, earlier post), provides $34 million to 15 projects to find advanced biocatalyst technologies that can convert natural gas to liquid fuel for transportation.
The other program, Modern Electro/Thermochemical Advancements for Light-metal Systems (METALS, earlier post), provides $32 million to 18 projects to find cost-effective and energy-efficient manufacturing techniques to process and recycle metals for lightweight vehicles. The funding opportunity announcements for both programs were released earlier this year in March.