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Rentech’s Integrated Biomass-Coal-to-Liquids Demonstration Unit Tracking to Start Fuels Production in Spring 2008

Rentech’s 10 barrel per day Product Demonstration Unit (PDU) at its Energy Technology Center in Commerce City, Colorado is tracking to begin production of synthetic diesel and aviation fuels from a combined feed of coal and biomass (CBTL, coal-biomass-to-liquids) on a demonstration scale in spring 2008.

The PDU is expected to be the first fully-integrated biomass-coal-to-liquids facility. Baard Energy is currently developing its Ohio River Clean Fuels CTL project in Wellsville, Ohio in which it will co-feed the gasifiers with 30% biomass and 70% coal, and capture CO2 for sequestration. According to a year-long Idaho National Lab modeling study, the Baard CTL fuels will yield 46% less emissions of greenhouse gases than conventional low-sulfur diesel transportation fuels. (Earlier post.)

A study by the US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE/NETL) and the US Air Force released in September 2007 concluded that a CBTL facility capable of producing 7,500 barrels per day or more of jet fuel or diesel with accompanying 20% lower life-cycle emissions of CO2 compared to conventional petroleum refining processes is feasible. (Earlier post.)

The Rentech PDU will serve as a testing ground for a variety of feedstocks such as natural gas, various coals and biomass and as an end-to-end demonstration center for the production process of synthetic fuels.

All major equipment has now been installed at the site. In addition, more than four thousand pounds of the Rentech catalyst have been manufactured, tested and are onsite and ready to be loaded into the Rentech reactor immediately prior to start-up of the process.

Catalyst has also been loaded into the steam methane reformer, enabling the activation of the equipment and the production of synthesis gas for the process. In addition, successful testing of Rentech’s proprietary wax catalyst separation system has been conducted at the center.

Over the next few weeks, as more systems are completed and turned over to the operations group, Rentech will be completing pressure tests on the piping systems and will continue instrument loop checks. The finalization of the testing will enable Rentech to launch fuels production this spring.



It sounds like this is more a report of progress to the investors than any innovation announcement. I would rather see them use local biomass from farm fields than coal brought by rail from 1000 miles away.

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