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US Sustainable Energy Completes Assembly of First Fuel Reactor for New Biofuel

US Sustainable Energy Corp. (USSEC) has completed the first reactor system at its new plant in Natchez, Mississippi. Named FREEUS, the reactor includes a number of refinements, component upgrades, and process improvements designed by management and consulting engineers since introducing the prototype last year.

The new reactor tube is capable of producing 6,000 gallons of USSEC’s proprietary biofuel daily. USSEC uses a modified pyrolytic process with hydrolysis to produce a liquid fuel with higher heating value than current biodiesel. Although USSEC is targeting its biofuel for use in power generation, the company says that it is considering a variety of transportation markets as well.

The FREEUS reactor is the first of more than 200 planned reactor tubes scheduled for installation over the next 12 months at the Natchez facility, with further announcements on additional site locations for 2008 expected by March.

The USSEC process (called the “Rivera Process” after the company founder, John Rivera) breaks down vegetable feedstock into three usable products: carbon ash, liquid biofuel, and biogas. The carbon ash is the number one product, and has been certified as a 7-3-7 100% organic fertilizer. One bushel of bean creates 20.1 pounds of this organic fertilizer. The biogas provides 100% of the power for USSEC’s manufacturing facility.

In the process, feed stocks and a proprietary catalyst are heated in a reactor to a relatively high temperature below atmospheric pressure. Oils and water vaporize from the feedstock, and are extracted and condensed to produce the biofuel. Lighter gases that are non-condensable at atmospheric pressure are recovered for use in the process. The gas product has a heating value of 1,811 BTU per cubic foot; by comparison, the heating value of natural gas is approximately 1,000 BTU per cubic foot. The entire process is a “volume gain” process similar to catalytic cracking.

The USSEC process can operate at a variety of scale, converting even waste biomass into fuel and fertilizer. The biofuel conversion ratio is three times more efficient than that of traditional biodiesel, according to the company, and can produce five gallons of fuel from 1 bushel of soybean feedstock.

Typical Fuel Properties
PropertyUSSECBiodieselULSD #2
Approximate Heating Value
125,000 117,000 128,000
Pour point (°F) -90 30 0
Cloud point (°F) -70 35 15
Flash point (°F) 90-95 266 125
Viscosity 0.8-1.1 1.9-6.0 1.9-4.1




This is a new technology to me. Wonder what the EROEI is. Is it a continuous process or a batch process?


There is a lively discussion about this over at

The analysis of the companys claims by some of the forum members convinces me there is too much hype and sketchy science.


I calculate this fuel has an energy density of 31 mJ/L (always easier to work in metric) compared to Choren's Sundiesel with 35. The latter works in standard engines without modification but apparently has lower yields per volume of raw material. Let's hope this project will go somewhere unlike some other recent 'breakthroughs'.

Mark A

Are soybeans the only cultivated vegetative feedstock? If so then they are in for a hard time as the farmers will be soon planting mostly corn to feed the massive proliferation of ethanol plants being built and envisioned here in the US.

Rafael Seidl

Natural gas is almost all methane. Either their gas contains a fair amount of hydrogen or they are comparing gases at different temperatures.

If it's the former, there might be better uses for hydrogen than burning it in the facility. If it's the latter, their claim is not scientific.

I do like the idea of producing fertilizer this way, though. Intensive biofuel agriculture will need that kind of feedback loop to be sustainable. The real question is, can this process also work with energy crops that can be grown on soils too poor to grow food crops?

Roger Arnold

The claims they are making are entirely "too good to be true". This appears to be a well-planned scam just coming to climax. But it has certaily sucked in a lot of the MSM press. And Mike, too, apparently.

I suppose we'll know in a few days. It could be a case of a legitimate company with a marketing department that has gone completely out of control, but I don't think so. The misstatements are too consistent and hang together too well to be just hype.


Using soy beans for pyrolysis is no-starter. Corn ethanol production uses only starch, leaving the most valuable for cattle feed component – proteins, intact. Combusting protein to produce char and heat is way too wasteful.


Hydrogen gas has the lowest volumetric calorific value from all hydrocarbon gases. Pyrolysis gases have higher calorific value (on volume basis) then NG due to high concentration of long carbon chain gases, such as ethylene or acetylene.

Roger Arnold:

Pyrolysis of organic biomass is well-established technology, yet it is technologically challenging process and yields low-quality liquid fuel. Look, for example, for Dynamotive or Agri-Therm applications.

Roger Arnold

It's not just that the idea of using soy beans as a pyrolysis feedstock makes no economic or ecological sense. We're not dealing with a company that is simply pursuing a bad idea. They're making claims that can't possibly be true. The yield they're claiming to get from a bushel of soy beans contains more energy than the original soybeans, yet they insist that the process is fueled entirely by pyrolysis gases. And they have still have a substantial yield of char? I don't think so! Yet they're claiming to have an operational unit!

I could be wrong, but I predict that these guys will be out of the country within a week. If the Mississippi state AG doesn't get to them first.


AS they say in Russia, USSEC seems to be breaking down an open door. Dynamotive has been pushing pyrolysis with cellulosic stock and waste. Why pyrolize something as valuable as soya when you can use free feedstock? It may be possible to increase the caloric yield of the biofuel by adding char, which Dynamotive has also just demonstrated - however that also increases the No and Co2 emissions. The technology is already here, the issue is cost - unless and until we slap petroleum fuel with serious taxes, nothing is going to happen. Bush's call for 60 billion gallons of ethanol is a joke, similar to him calling for a manned mission to Mars. I never thought that I would see a US president talking childish nonsense. Hit petroleum with $1/gallon tax, eliminate our deficit and give biofuels and EV a chance.

An Engineer

From what I gather this process basically converts lipids into liquid fuel (like thermal depolymerization). Hence the demo on soybeans (high lipid content). Show me some results on a real world, high volume waste, such as forestry waste or waste paper!


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USSE does not break the laws of physics. When they claim 5 gallons from one bushel of soybeans, there are additional energy inputs that make up for the difference in BTU. I suspect the additional energy comes from their proprietary catylist .

When you make ethanol from corn or make soy bean oil, there are attitional energy inputs to grind, cook, press and there are chemical inputs to facilitate chemical reactions.

The Freeus reactor cannot function properly without the catylist. It is an input that adds attitional energy and mass, and this is how you get 5 gallons of fuel with more energy than the original soybeans.

JR is not going to spell out his process, but he will try to present the most positive perspective. I think that this 5 gallons per bushel is valid but misleading. Its like comparing peak horsepower and sustainable horsepower. JR would be better off claiming a lower conversion rate, and focus on the value of the fertilizer which is a competitive byproduct compared to distillers grains or soymeal. The biofuels industry will flood the animal feed market with their byproducts, but the fertilizer market will only get more bullish.

The additional plant location was announced for Princeton, Illinois. Ground-breaking for the plant is planned for June 14.

Cheryl Ho

there are developments in DME in China today:
DME is an LPG-like synthetic fuel can be produced through gasification of Biomass. The synthetic gas is then catalyzed to produce DME. A gas under normal pressure and temperature, DME can be compressed into a liquid and used as an alternative to diesel. Its low emissions make it relatively environmentally friendly. In fact, Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and will be sharing their experience at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:

DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information:




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Nikolaus Foidl

Its actually a old process patented some 30 yeras ago and repatented several times during the last 15 yeras. The original inventor was Prof. Bayer from Germany. In Brasil they call the process CBT or LTC ( low temperature conversion) If you look at the costs equation the claims of the company are bogus. Today one ton of soy values 400 US$ and higher so if you produce 5 gallons from one bushel soy ( thats 27,2 kg) then only the raw material costs are alone 2.176 US$ per gallon. Now have a look at the C-H2-Balance and you find out that additional to the 1 bushel of soy they introduce huge quantities of charcoal or CO to make the balance work as well they are adding H2 in mentionable quantities. Looking up the original patents from some 30 years ago they used oil and protein as feed stocks added charcoal in activated form and talked about adding H2 to get a lower oxygen content in the resulting oil and a higher heating value for the non condensable gases. In the modern versions of the same process instead off sucking out most of the oxygen by vacuum they add N2 as a sealant against entrained air. If we add now the costs for the H2 and CO ( produced by a simple plasma with carbon electrodes in a water charged with soluble organics, the so called Magna gas or water gas etc., big hype some 10 years ago) then we are up in the costs at over 3 US$ per gallon, still have to count the overhead costs and transport, taxes etc. So nothing sounding like saving the world. There is no wonder full technology to save the world which is so far ahead of all other technologies. Its a technically nice variant of liquefaction of biomass thats all. There are hundreds of patents in this area with and without the presence of water and so called "proprietary catalysts" which most times turn out to be simple snake oil -peddler fantasies to get quickly hands on the big bucks. This one is solid but not very economic and for sure not patentable.
best regards Nikolaus

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