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Aquaflow signs cooperation agreement with CRI Catalyst Company to develop renewable fuels from algae and multi-biomass stock using IH2 catalytic pyrolysis

New Zealand-based algal technology company, Aquaflow Bionomic Corporation, signed an agreement with Texas-based CRI Catalyst Company to test and to evaluate projects that bring together Aquaflow’s algal capability and the Integrated Hydropyrolysis and Hydroconversion technology (IH2) technology to produce commercially viable cellulosic hydrocarbon fuels and blendstocks.

Early this year, CRI acquired exclusive global sublicensing rights for the IH2 technology from Illinois-based Gas Technology Institute (GTI) where the technology was developed. (Earlier post.) CRI Catalyst Company is part of CRI/Criterion Inc., the global catalyst technology company of the Shell Group.

GTI received funding support from the US Department of Energy (EERE Office of Biomass Program) under the integrated biorefinery initiative for the development of IH2. Participants in GTI’s project included Cargill, Johnston Timber, Aquaflow, Blue Marble Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Michigan Technological University.

The Integrated Hydropyrolysis and Hydroconversion (IH2) is an advanced pyrolysis technology which utilizes low pressure hydrogen together with a proprietary catalyst to cost-effectively converts biomass directly into renewable gasoline, jet and diesel hydrocarbon blendstocks.

IH2 produces significant amounts of export energy in addition to the renewable transportation fuels, while minimizing impact on the surrounding environment by manufacturing its own hydrogen and recycling the water used in the process. GTI says that renewable gasoline (RG) produced by the IH2 process results in more than 90% lower greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum-based fuels.

The initial focus of the agreement will be on establishing a demonstration facility, most likely in the USA, said Aquaflow director, Nick Gerritsen. From this base, the partners will expand into the project opportunities currently in the Aquaflow pipeline across different geographies. Gerritsen said that the agreement is the culmination of four years’ work that Aquaflow has been doing behind the scenes; that is, a multi-biomass approach in which the chemical qualities of algae can be maximized within a mix of other biomass streams.

Aquaflow is one of the first companies in the world to take this broader approach to incorporate algae in feedstocks to enable the near-term production of drop-in fuels and chemicals. This approach gives us the flexibility to develop a multi-biomass feedstock mix specific to available resources worldwide. We believe this is a significant advance for algal biofuels over lipid oil extraction approaches to diesel and jet fuel.

—Nick Gerritsen

In July, PetroAlgae Inc., a provider of licensable commercial micro-crop technology globally, also entered into an agreement with CRI to use IH2 for the conversion of PetroAlgae’s micro-crop residues into renewable fuels. (Earlier post.)



It is somewhat troubling that the taxpayer funds and interest used to develop this technology at GTI are now locked up in an exclusive license issued to Shell Oil (CRI Catalyst.) It is incumbent on DOE and its assigns to exploit inventions and technology developed with taxpayer funds - for the benefit of the taxpayer. i.e. the American public.

In light of the egregious action of Chevron to kill large format NiMh batteries – oversight of DOE and GTI’s licensing decision seems reasonable. Especially in the case of processes that are non-petroleum (eg biomass) based or petroleum competitive - exclusive licenses should not be issued to petroleum companies without clear public oversight, including a right for immediate termination.

Keep in mind that Shell Oil is aka Royal Dutch Shell - a Dutch conglomerate given exclusive rights to U.S. taxpayer funded technology.


Further investigation reveals the catalyst used in the GTI process is provided by Shell's CRI unit. It is integral to IH2. This explains why the license went to Shell. However, it would have been more equitable for the U.S. taxpayer if GTI and CRI cross licensed the process, ensuring both entities opportunities to develop (or sub-license) IH2 drop-in fuels.

Unfortunately the history of fossil fuel companies paying lip service to alternative energy is long and mostly unproductive.

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