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LS9 Purchases Florida Site to Manufacture Renewable Diesel; Commercial-Scale Demonstration

The new Renewable Petroleum Facility. Click to enlarge.

LS9, a synthetic biology company developing fermentation-derived drop-in renewable fuels and chemicals (earlier post), has acquired an existing production facility in Okeechobee, Florida. LS9 will retrofit the facility to accommodate its proprietary one-step fermentation process.

The new “Renewable Petroleum Facility” (RPF) is designed to enable the production of 50,000-100,000 gallons of UltraClean Diesel by late 2010—a level of production that will validate the commercial viability of its UltraClean Diesel technology, according to the company. Once the demonstration scale testing is completed, LS9 expects to quickly transition the facility into commercial production.

LS9 modifies the ACP pathway in bacteria to produce renewable hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals with optimized properties. Source: LS9. Click to enlarge.

LS9 has engineered a one-step process using to convert fatty acid intermediates into petroleum replacement products via fermentation of renewable sugars. LS9 has also discovered and engineered a new class of enzymes and their associated genes to efficiently convert fatty acids into hydrocarbons. The LS9 microorganisms precisely produce fuels having desired properties such as cetane, volatility, oxidative stability and cold-flow.

LS9 UltraClean Diesel meets or exceeds American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for on-road use in the United States. In addition, LS9 UltraClean Diesel contains no carcinogens, such as benzene, and only trace amounts of sulfur.

LS9 will use sugar cane syrup to produce the diesel replacement product, with a reduction in carbon emissions by 85% compared to the production of conventional petroleum diesel. In addition to demonstration scale equipment, the new facility will house lab and pilot scale operations that LS9 will use to test and integrate cellulosic materials such as wood chips and agricultural waste into its production process. The use of cellulosic biomass will lead to even greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

LS9’s UltraClean Diesel is currently the only finished diesel directly produced by fermentation of renewable raw materials in a single step. The company’s proprietary one-step process has higher yields and removes additional production costs associated with the multi-step processes required by other renewable diesel technologies, according to the company.

Moving technology from lab to full-scale commercial production is always an exciting challenge. With the progress we have achieved in moving our technology from the lab through the pilot plant, we are definitely ready to demonstrate at commercial scale. The Okeechobee facility is ideal for our needs.

—Wei Huang, Vice President of Process Development, LS9



Florida sugar cane is one of the most heavily subsidized crops in the U.S. If you factor that into the equation this venture makes less sense.


Sounds like a right direction, but no numbers (construction, production cost estimates, scalability,..)

Sean Prophet

Remember, this is a *demonstration* plant. First you demonstrate sugar > biofuel, then at stage 2 you bring in the conversion from cellulose > sugar. (Like the article already says).


A benefit of using the sugarcane to make diesel rather than ethanol is that diesel is much easier to separate from water than ethanol. A huge amount of energy (today mostly from coal) is currently used to separate ethanol from water.


This would be good, then we could have the diesel hybrids like the PNGV cars ten years ago, but running on renewable fuels.

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