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Tyson and Syntroleum to Develop Renewable Synthetic Fuels Plants

The Biofining process leverages Syntroleum’s Fischer-Tropsch wax upgrading experience to produce a lower-cost renewable synthetic diesel than possible via a traditional biomass-to-liquids pathway. Click to enlarge.

Tyson Foods, Inc. and Syntroleum Corporation, a Fischer-Tropsch fuels technology company, have formed a joint venture company—Dynamic Fuels LLC—which will produce renewable synthetic fuels targeting the diesel, jet, and military fuel markets.  (Earlier post.)

The 50-50 venture will produce renewable fuels using what Syntroleum calls its “Biofining” process. Biofining is essentially a biomass-optimized third-stage of Syntroleum’s full Fischer-Tropsch-based synthetic fuels process, the three basic elements of which are (1) gasification, (2) the Fischer-Tropsch reaction, and (3) the upgrading of the F-T wax. Biofining in essence treats fats, greases and vegetables oils as a Fischer-Tropsch wax, and upgrades them to renewable diesel (R-2) and renewable jet fuel (R-8).

(Syntroleum calls its upgrade process for Fischer-Tropsch wax derived from coal or natural gas feedstocks Synfining, with the resulting products labelled S-2 diesel and S-8 jet fuel.)

The first facility will produce about 75 million gallons of synthetic fuel annually. Construction of this initial $150 million facility is expected to start in 2008 at a yet-to-be-determined site in the south central United States, with production targeted for 2010.

The fuels produced by the Dynamic Fuels will offer the same benefits of Fischer-Tropsch synthetic fuels derived from coal or natural gas while providing substantial advantages over petroleum-based fuels.

These benefits include higher cetane levels, which are a measure of combustion quality; significantly lower NOx and near zero sulfur. In addition, it will provide superior thermal stability, making it effective for advanced military applications.

The fuel will offer the additional benefits of higher energy content, better cold flow properties enabling it to function effectively in cold weather and reduced carbon dioxide emissions. The unblended fuel can be used in existing diesel engines with no engine modifications required and also can be upgraded into ultra-clean, high quality synthetic jet fuel.

Fuel Properties
Property Refined Crude
All Feedstocks
R-2 Diesel
Refined Crude
All Feedstocks
R-8 Jet
Cloud Point [°F] -9° na na
Freeze Pt [°F] na na -53° -58°
Sulfur [ppm] 15 max <1 3,000 <1
Aromatics [vol%] 35% max not detectable 25% max not detectable
Cetane 40 min ~45 >60
Heat of Combustion 42.2 43.8 42.8 43.8
Smoke Pt [mm] na na 25 min 33

The synthetic fuel produced by Dynamic Fuels may be blended with petroleum-based diesel and/or conventional biodiesel to help those fuels achieve superior environmental and performance characteristics.

Impact on greenhouse gas emissions for different alternative fuels, including estimated impact of Biofining fuels. Click to enlarge.

Syntroleum estimates that use of Biofining fuels would decrease lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by around 74% compared to a conventional petroleum-based fuel.

As the world’s largest producer and marketer of chicken, beef and pork, Tyson produces large by-product volumes of various grades of animal fats, such as beef tallow, pork lard, chicken fat, and greases which can be utilized as renewable feedstock for this venture. Drawing on Tyson’s  applied protein chemistry experience, the feedstock mix will be pre-processed and optimized for the facilities.

Tyson also intends to use its procurement capabilities, industry relationships, and experience in commodity trading and risk avoidance to access feedstocks from other sources. Tyson will also utilize its transportation and logistics team, as well as its truck, rail and barge assets, to coordinate the cost effective movement of the feedstocks to fuel production facilities.

The next step in the evolution of the process is Staged BTL—the integration of BTL gasifier and F-T reactor with the Biofining reactor. Click to enlarge.

Syntroleum views Biofining as the first enabling step in the development of a renewable synthetic fuels process that will begin integrating full biomass-to-liquids production. The next step would be Staged BTL—the integration of a biomass gasifier and F-T reactor into a Biofining plant. The third-stage Biofining reactor would, in other words, process both biomass-derived Fischer-Tropsch wax and fats, oils and grease. One advantage of this approach is lower capital cost. 

Ultimately, Syntroleum sees a series of fully integrating Biofining and BTL plants that each produce around 90 million gallons of fuel annually, for a combined output of more than 525 million gallons per year by 2026.

The companies will each contribute 50% of the estimated $150 million dollar cost of the initial project over the next two and a half years, with the primary contributions coming in fiscal year 2008 and 2009.



Tysen Adams

This seems to be a growing trend! I came across a great contest for non-profit business professionals at They are holding a contest to reward business leaders for starting or running socially responsible companies.

Ange Anders

Seems odd that being "socially resposible" took so long to catch on. I like that Social Venture Network is rewarded those business leaders. Thank you!



If I understand this right a wax from FT processing of coal or NG could be mixed with rendered chicken fat for the final stage. This could be a bureaucratic headache if the fossil input attracted carbon tax and the bio input didn't. I think current zoning laws keep animal processors and oil type refineries well apart.

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