Tolero Energy LLC, a Sacramento, California-based biofuels company, has licensed a biomass pyrolysis process from the University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc (UGARF). The UGARF process produces a bio-oil that does not require additional refinement or processing before blending with bio- or petroleum diesel.
The exclusive license provides Tolero Energy global rights to the technology, including the right to grant sublicenses. Tolero CEO Chris Churchill said the company will focus on the transportation fuels market as it completes development of the UGARF bio-oil technology. He expects to make product based on the technology available in the first half of 2010.
Lead inventor of the technology is Tom Adams, a retired member of the University of Georgia Faculty of Engineering. Co-inventors are John Goodrum, Manuel Garcia-Perez, Dan Geller and Joshua Pendergrass—all presently or previously associated with the UGA Faculty of Engineering.
The biomass is heated at high temperatures in the absence of oxygen (fast pyrolysis). A proprietary vapor processing system condenses the vapors into a bio-oil that can be added to biodiesel or petroleum diesel. Other pyrolysis by-products are gas and bio-char, which can be used as a soil amendment.
Dead trees resulting from infestations of the mountain pine beetle are one of the major sources of waste biomass for Tolero, according to Churchill. Tolero also will convert other types of cellulosic biomass, such as agricultural waste and waste wood pallets, into renewable transportation fuels, heating fuels, soil amendments and industrial products.
UGARF performs the technology transfer function for the University of Georgia, taking assignment of patents and licensing such patents to the private sector in return for royalty income to support the research mission of the university.