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Sundrop Fuels finalizes ExxonMobil MTG technology license for “green gasoline” production facility

The ExxonMobil MTG process flow diagram. Source: EMRE. Click to enlarge.

Sundrop Fuels, Inc., a gasification-based drop-in advanced biofuels company, finalized a licensing agreement to use ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company’s methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) technology to be incorporated into a “green gasoline” production facility. Located near Alexandria, Louisiana, Sundrop Fuels plans to break ground late this year on its inaugural commercial plant, which will produce up to 50 million gallons of renewable gasoline annually. (Earlier post.)

The Sundrop Fuels installation represents the first commercial production of biofuels using the MTG process. The MTG technology was originally developed in the 1970s and was successfully commercialized for a large-scale natural gas to gasoline plant during the 1980s in New Zealand.

Sundrop Fuels will use a multi-phase process to convert sustainable forest waste into a bio-based drop-in gasoline for use in today’s combustion engines. A gasification process converts the forest waste combined with hydrogen from natural gas into a synthesis gas, which will then be converted into methanol and then into gasoline in a fixed bed reactor system via the MTG process.

The MTG reaction path. Source: EMRE. Click to enlarge.

The MTG process first dehydrates methanol to dimethylether (DME); an equilibrium mixture of methanol, DME and water is then converted to light olefins (C2-C4). A final step synthesizes higher olefins, n/iso-paraffins, aromatics and naphthenes. The shape-selective catalyst limits the synthesis reactions to 10 carbons.

MTG reactor product is separated into gas, raw gasoline and water. Raw gasoline is separated into LPG, light gasoline and heavy gasoline; heavy gasoline is hydro-treated to reduce durene content, then heavy and light gasoline are re-combined into finished MTG gasoline. The result is sulfur-free gasoline with a typical 92 Research Octane.

MTG gasoline properties
  Average Range
Octane Number, RON 92.2 92.0-92.5
Octane Number, MON 82.6 82.2-83.0
Reid Vapor Pressure, kPa 85 82-90
Density, kg/m3 730 728-733
Induction Period, min. 325 260-370
Durene Content, wt% 2 1.74-2.29
% Evaporation at 70° C 31.5 29.5-34.5
% Evaporation at 100° C 53.2 51.5-55.5
% Evaporation at 180° C 94.9 94-96.5
End Point, °C 204.5 196-209

The gasoline yield represents 38% of the feed, and 87% of the hydrocarbon product. Water (H2O) represents 56% of the feed.

The company’s first facility will also provide an operational platform for Sundrop Fuels to begin field integration of its proprietary RP Reactor radiant particle heat transfer gasification technology. The super-efficient, ultra high-temperature process will drive Sundrop Fuels’ future massive-scale biofuels plants, planned to produce more than 300 million gallons of renewable, drop-in biofuels annually.

Plans are for Sundrop Fuels to achieve a combined production capacity of more than one billion gallons by 2020—a significant percentage of the cellulosic advanced biofuels goal set by the nation’s Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

Significant backing for Sundrop Fuels comes from Chesapeake Energy Corporation, the largest producer of natural gas in northern Louisiana’s Haynesville Shale Field and second-largest producer in the nation. Chesapeake invested $155 million in Sundrop Fuels in mid-2011. The company’s investors also include two of the world’s premier venture capital firms, Oak Investment Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers.



Green gasoline, Clean coal, Clean Diesel, Clean Tar Sands fuel etc? Are supposed to believe that PR.


Does this compagny can buy my garbages that actually are collected free.


This is great, if the forestry waste material gets too expensive they can always substitute NG to make the synthesis gas.. its good to have versatility for the stock materials.


This is what I advocated, biomass and natural gas to make synthetic fuels, but the usual suspect did nothing but hurl personal attacks. I don't plan to listen to more of that abuse, so long for now.


My humble assessment is that the cost from biomass to methanol is the deciding factor for economic viability. Today, the cost of methanol is $1.32 per gallon. Downstream of methanol, everything is a license. Can Sundrop beat the spot price of methanex?


James Meyer, MBA/PE (Chemical Engineer)

richard schumacher

I'd happily pay $6/gallon for renewable gasoline.

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