Avjet Biotech negotiating strategic relationship with BioJet international for distributed refineries for drop-in renewable aviation fuel
Avjet Biotech, Inc. (ABI), a developer of small distributive refining systems in the 10 to 15 million gallon per year range and parent company of drop-in biofuel company Red Wolf Refining (RWR), is in negotiation for a strategic relationship with BioJet International Ltd, an international supply chain integrator, for renewable (bio) jet fuel and related co-products.
Under the agreement with ABI, BioJet will use the patented RWR System (earlier post) to build refineries that will produce drop-in renewable aviation biofuels from native feedstocks at locations around the globe.
BioJet International operates across the supply chain by owning or controlling large quantities of bio-feedstock, developing refining capacity, solving aviation fuel supply logistics, and handling sales to end users. It is also the first Alternative Fuels Strategic Partner of the International Air Transport Association.
ABI recently completed a license agreement to commercialize all patents and intellectual property related to the Professor William Roberts’ biofuels program at North Carolina State University, including products for the pharmaceutical and fine chemical industries from genetically modified marine microalgae. The license agreement is global in scope and extends to 22 foreign countries where patents have been filed.
In 2009, the National Science Foundation awarded the NC State team a $2-million grant to develop and scale up a unique, multi-step catalytic process to convert a wide range of fats, oils, and lipids produced by algae into transportation fuels that are chemically and physically similar to their petroleum counterparts. (Earlier post.)
The RWR System uses a thermal catalytic process to convert triglycerides contained in fats and oils into aviation biofuels in a three step process comprising hydrolysis, deoxygenation and hydrocarbon reforming. Unlike large refinery-scale systems such as those using Honeywell’s UOP’s Ecofining technology, or Neste’s NExBTL, the Red Wolf system is under development as a small, distributed refining system designed to be located close to feedstocks, says Martin Oliver, President and Director of Red Wolf Refining.
While we’re fairly comfortable with our economic model and pricing structure against anyone, we don’t want to consider ourselves in competition [with UOP]. A main differentiator is that we’re building refineries on a much smaller scale and one of the reasons we can do so is that we are not as [external] hydrogen intensive.—Martin Oliver
RWR uses high-pressure, high temperature steam to separate free fatty acids from glycerol in the triglycerides in the feedstock. Water from the steam can be reused, and the glycerol byproduct can be burned to produce a power source for the process.
The free fatty acids resulting from hydrolysis and solvent are heated, pressurized, and passed through a catalyst in a reactor to produce n-alkanes, the building blocks of fuels. These are then reformed into branched alkanes and ring structures. The alkanes can be reformed differently to create a variety of fuel types. Red Wolf is focused on aviation fuels, Oliver said: JP5, JP8, and commercial.
The RWR System is under development for sale as a small distributive refining system to global entities or foreign governments that aspire to produce renewable aviation biofuels from native feedstocks. Red Wolf says it has been approached by global corporations and foreign governments for sub-licenses for its RWR System.
The company is currently focusing on camelina and jatropha as feedstocks as it continues to work with algae, Oliver said.
Another of our differentiators is that we can go out today and utilize whatever feedstock is available and the most abundant. We’re hoping that algae becomes available sooner than later. The fact that we have identified the [algae] strain puts us ahead of the game.—Martin Oliver
ABI’s other division is Pinehurst Biologics, which produces patented enzymes and algal oil for aviation biofuel feedstock.