New catalytic decarboxylation process for converting fatty acids to drop-in hydrocarbon fuels; initial focus on biojet
|Overview of AliphaJet process. Click to enlarge.|
AliphaJet, Inc., a collaborative venture between SynGest Inc. and Unitel Technologies, has says it has developed and successfully demonstrated a cost-effective catalytic method for making jet biofuel from renewable products such as plant and animal triglycerides and/or fatty acids. The development of the AliphaJet process was led by Dr. Ravi Randhava in collaboration with Dr. Paul Ratnasamy at the University of Louisville.
AliphaJet’s BoxCar process first converts crude fat feedstock into fatty acids and glycerol. The fatty acids are then put through catalytic decarboxylation (CDC) to produce bio paraffins. The CDC process is capable of processing unsaturated as well as saturated fatty acids into true hydrocarbons. The process does not change the type of saturation; however, when necessary to create fuels from unsaturated fats, introduction of a small amount of hydrogen during the catalytic decarboxylation step will yield a saturated hydrocarbon suited for fuels.
The process is capable of producing olefins as well as paraffins and so can accommodate the entire petrochemical industry as far as feedstocks and end-use products are concerned, the company claims.
The process also reduces capital and operating costs because it does not require hydrogen to remove the oxygen from the feedstocks. This technology shift unlocks several areas of capital and processing cost savings compared to competing technologies, according to the company:
- Processing facilities are less complex, thereby reducing capital costs;
- Zero variable costs for expensive production of hydrogen;and
- AliphaJet facilities can be located where the renewable inputs are produced, versus the logistics and transportation costs of dealing with a fossil fuel based refinery.
AliphaJet has successfully produced renewable jet biofuel using both plant-based oils and animal fats such as beef tallow. Samples were tested at Southwest Research Institute and met or exceeded D-1655 requirements including net heat of combustion, freezing point, smoke point and sulfur levels.
The AliphaJet process can also produce renewable drop-in diesel fuel, gasoline and other hydrocarbon molecules usually derived from fossil fuel oil.
Renewable oil feedstocks can be sourced from plants, animal processing or emerging oil production sources such as algae and genetically modified organisms: seeds/vegetables (camelina, pennycress, palm, soy, corn), animal fats (beef, chicken), algae (Sapphire, Solazyme), GMO (Amyris, LS9, Genomatica).