Departments of the Navy, Energy and Agriculture award $210M in contracts for 3 drop-in fuel biorefineries; more than 100M gallons/year
The US Departments of Navy, Energy, and Agriculture have awarded contracts worth a combined $210 million to three companies—Emerald Biofuels, Fulcrum BioEnergy and Red Rock Biofuels—to construct and commission biorefineries capable of producing drop-in biofuels. In total, these projects are intended to produce more than 100 million gallons of military-grade fuel beginning in 2016 and 2017 at a price competitive with their petroleum counterparts.
The awards were made through the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Defense Production Act (DPA) of 1950, which was passed at the beginning of the Korean War to empower the President, among other things, with an array of authorities to shape national defense preparedness programs and to take appropriate steps to maintain and enhance the domestic industrial base. DPA has been re-authorized multiple times since then.
Title III of the Defense Production Act (DPA) currently provides unique authorities, under which the Government may provide appropriate incentives to create, maintain, protect, expand, or restore the productive capacities of domestic sources for critical components, critical technology items, and industrial resources essential for the execution of the national security strategy of the United States.
On 27 June 2012, the Defense Production Act Title III Program published a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for an “Advanced Drop-in Biofuels Production Project.” The FOA requested proposals from domestic sources to execute the project, focused on the creation of an economically viable production capacity for advanced drop-in biofuels.
The biofuels are to be delivered to the DoD fully blended with conventional petroleum product counterparts JP-5, JP-8 and/or F-76 requiring no modifications to existing infrastructure.
The drop-in alternative fuels can be blended at a 50/50 ratio with traditional fossil fuels. This blend was successfully demonstrated during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) demonstration in 2012 for ships and planes. As these fuels become more available, the Department of the Navy will make advanced drop-in biofuel a regular part of its bulk fuel procurement.
At the time of the issuance of the FOA, the requirement was that the project would include the design, construction, validation, qualification and operation of one or more domestic commercial-scale Integrated Biofuel Production Enterprises (IBPE) that meet a target of at least 10 million gallons per year neat biofuel production capacity.
The project has two phases:
- Phase 1: Planning and Preliminary Design;
- Phase 2: Construction, Commissioning and Performance Testing
Four Phase 1 Technology Investment Agreements (TIA) were awarded in May and June 2013; these went to Emerald Biofuels; Fulcrum BioEnergy; RedRock Biofuels; and Nature Bioreserves.
The companies receiving Phase 2 investment for the construction and commissioning of biorefineries are:
Emerald Biofuels: To build an 82-million gallon per year (gpy) refinery on the Gulf Coast using waste fats to create military grade fuel. In May 2012, Emerald Biofuels licensed Honeywell’s UOP/Eni Ecofining process technology for the hydroprocessing of non-edible natural oils and animal fats to drop-in fuels. (Earlier post.)
Fulcrum BioEnergy: To build a 10-million gpy refinery in McCarran, Nevada. Fulcrum uses a two-stage thermochemical process involving gasification of municipal solid waste (MSW) followed by a Fischer-Tropsch process to convert the syngas to jet fuel and/or diesel fuel. (Earlier post.) On 4 September, USDA announced a $105-million Biorefinery Assistance Program loan guarantee to Fulcrum BioEnergy for the construction of this facility.
Red Rock Biofuels: To build a 12-million gallon per year refinery in Lakeview, Ore. using woody biomass, or the by-products of forest management, as its feedstock and the Fischer-Tropsch process to create a refined product.
The process begins with the gasification of woody biomass to produce synthesis gas. This synthesis gas is cleaned and sent to a Fischer-Tropsch unit where it is converted to liquid hydrocarbons. Hydroprocessing refines the liquid hydrocarbons to produce jet, diesel, and naphtha fuels.
While large commercial facilities currently use Fischer-Tropsch technology. RRB’s key difference is a small economic footprint with flexible feedstock design; in 2013, Red Rock Biofuels selected Oxford Catalysts Group as the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) technology provider for the design and possible construction of a commercial Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL) plant in the US. (Earlier post.)