Startup Licenses Texas A&M Technologies for Direct Production of Hydrocarbon Fuels from Biomass; First Product to be 95 Octane Biogasoline
|Overview of the Byogy process. Click to enlarge.|
Start-up Byogy Renewables has licensed processes for the direct conversion of biomass to hydrocarbon fuels such as high-octane gasoline or jet fuel from the Texas A&M University System. Byogy is planning to have plants up and running within 18 months to two years.
Byogy’s initial plans are to produce only gasoline—a 95 octane fuel with an energy content of 130,000 Btu/gallon—according to Benjamin Brant, Byogy’s President and Chief Operating Officer. Conventional retail gasoline is about 125,000 Btu/gallon. Brant said that Byogy may involve strategic partners in the near future that will help support the production of jet fuels (JetA or JP8), diesel or further fractionation/distillation of its initial cuts to separate high value aromatic compounds as biochemical feedstocks.
Depending on location and feedstock, the first two plants will be in the 5 to 6 million gallons/year range, with the scale up to 10 and 25 million gallon modules on subsequent projects, Brant said.
The cost per gallon of the bio-gasoline (which Byogy is calling Byolene) would lie between $1.70 and $2.00 per gallon, excluding all government subsidies and tax credits, according to the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), the engineering research agency of the State of Texas and a member of The Texas A&M University System. The cost range is dependent on the type and cost of feedstock as well as the size of the biorefinery.
Byogy’s proprietary technology platform features biological fermentation and thermochemical processes developed at Texas A&M University over the past 16 years by Dr. Kenneth Hall, associate director of TEES and professor of chemical engineering at Texas A&M University; and his colleagues, Mark T. Holtzapple, a professor in chemical engineering, and Sergio A. Capareda, a professor in biological and agricultural engineering.
Dr. Hall was the developer of the ECLAIRS (Ethylene from Concentrated Liquid-phase Acetylene - Integrated, Rapid and Safe) technology for the direct production of 95 octane gasoline from natural gas. ECLAIRS has been licensed and is being commercialized by Synfuels International. (Earlier post.)
The ECLAIRS process cracks methane (CH4) into useful amounts of acetylene (C2H2); hydrogenates the acetylene into ethylene (C2H4) in the liquid phase rather than in the conventional gas-phase; and then oligomerizes the ethylene into gasoline. The final stabilized gasoline product is typically 95+% octane and contains 25-40% aromatics.
Dr. Holtzapple developed the MixAlco process that converts biomass into organic chemicals and alcohols with a multi-stage process that includes lime pretreatment, non-sterile acidogenic digestion, product concentration, thermal conversion to ketones and their subsequent hydrogenation to create mixed alcohol end products. (Earlier post.)
Hall and Holtzapple are serving as advisors to Byogy. A team led by Texas A&M chemical engineering professor Mahmoud El-Halwagi, a pioneer in the field of Process Integration, has been assembled to conduct the initial process integration work to provide a detailed set of design and operating procedures.
Our goal with this technology is to achieve as much as a 2 percent contribution to the nation’s gasoline demand by 2022 through the building of 200 more bio-refineries.—Benjamin Brant
The focus at the initial plant would be on using urban waste, which the plant would grind, sort and then convert into gasoline. Brant said that the volumetric yield per tonne is comparable to other cellulosic ethanol processes, but noted that there is no water content in the Byogy product.
Kenneth Hall (2005) A new gas to liquids (GTL) or gas to ethylene (GTE) technology. Catalysis Today, Volume 106, Issues 1-4, Pages 243-246 doi: 10.1016/j.cattod.2005.07.176