Oxford Catalysts Group PLC has signed a Strategic Alliance Agreement with Novus Energy, LLC, to develop technology for the conversion of biogas derived from organic wastes to ethanol and higher-chain alcohols.
Oxford Catalysts offers a novel class of catalysts made from metal carbides which can match or exceed the benefits of traditional precious metal catalysts for applications such as Fischer-Tropsch processing or hydro-desulfurization (HDS) at a lower cost. (Earlier post.)
Novus plans to convert large volumes of biogas produced by anaerobic digesters into a synthesis gas in a POX (partial oxidation) system, then pass the syngas through a catalyst-filled alcohol reactor. After exiting the reactor, gaseous alcohols are removed by condensation, while un-reacted syngas is cycled back to the reactor inlet for reprocessing.
The alliance provides funding for Oxford Catalysts to further develop key steps of the process, and to design subsequent large-scale facilities. Oxford Catalysts’ technology will provide key links between the biogas generation and the alcohol synthesis steps.
The companies are currently working together under contract to design and build a pilot plant unit which will demonstrate the operation of their combined technologies during the first half of 2008.
Novus Energy has announced plans to roll out dozens of on-site facilities in the US over a period of five years or so. The company also plans to introduce the technology into Europe, where a similar number of facilities are also planned. The first full-scale on-site unit is expected in 2009-2010.
Once these plants come on stream, Oxford Catalysts will earn a royalty income based on sales revenue of fuel-grade alcohols from each unit.
Novus had been working earlier with the Western Research Institute (WRI) on catalysts for the biogas to fuel alcohols process.
In choosing a catalyst technology company to collaborate with us to develop the challenging core processes in our RGL (Renewable Gas-to-Liquid) technology, Novus Energy needed a partner that was both innovative and responsive to our specific needs. Oxford Catalysts, we found, was the only company that met those criteria. We look forward to a long and fruitful working relationship with them.—John Offerman, President and Chief Technology Officer of Novus Energy