Australia-based Licella, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ignite Energy, has signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand to examine the development and commercialization of a process to convert woody biomass into sustainable aviation biofuel.
Licella has developed a process using a continuous flow catalytic hydro-thermal reactor (Cat-HTR) with supercritical water which converts woody materials and other biomass into a high quality bio-crude oil. The Licella bio-crude, which has an energy density of 34-36 MJ/kg and oxygen content of around 10 wt% or less, can then be refined into drop-in fuels.
The company’s new commercial demonstration facility at Somersby in New South Wales was just opened by the Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson. Licella has been supported with an A$2.3 million grant from the Australian Government’s Second Generation Biofuels Research and Development (Gen 2) Program.
The Licella plant will demonstrate the production of bio-crude oil that has the potential to be refined into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.
Virgin Australia and Licella will explore the potential of the Licella technology to produce aviation fuel, with the aim of supporting its certification and reaching a commercial off-take agreement. Air New Zealand and Licella will jointly explore the potential of the technology to produce sustainable aviation biofuel in New Zealand.
In July, Virgin Australia announced a partnership with Renewable Oil Corporation (ROC), Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation and Future Farm Industries Co-operative Research Centre (FFI CRC) to develop a sustainable aviation biofuel using fast pyrolysis and subsequent bio-oil upgrading technology developed by Dynamotive to process mallees, a type of eucalyptus that can be grown sustainably in many parts of Australia, into renewable jet fuel. (Earlier post.)
Licella and its parent company Ignite Energy have also entered into agreements with joint venture partners TRU Energy and Norske Skog. The agreement reached between TRU Energy and Ignite Energy is to locate a commercial demonstration plant at Yallourn Power Station, in the Latrobe Valley, scheduled for mid-2012.
Trials of the technology will assess its potential to add significant value to Victoria's brown coal resource by producing quality liquid fuels and solid coal products, while also testing its capacity to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from burning brown coal.—Minister Ferguson
Licella and Norske Skog Australasia are also forming a new joint venture company called Licella Fibre Fuels. This new joint venture company will hold the exclusive global license to Licella’s catalytic hydro-thermal reactor technology.
Air New Zealand and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise have been working closely with Licella and Norske Skog for more than two years regarding opportunities for the technology in New Zealand.