Ensyn (earlier post) has been granted a key regulatory approval from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its renewable gasoline product, RFGasoline. This approval, pursuant to Title 40 CFR Part 79 promulgated under the Clean Air Act, is required for the sale of RFGasoline into US commerce.
This approval follows the recently announced Part 79 approval of Ensyn’s renewable diesel product, RFDiesel. (Earlier post.)
RFGasoline, a drop-in gasoline transportation fuel, is created by processing Ensyn’s renewable crude (RFO), a liquid cellulosic feedstock for refiners, with customary petroleum feedstocks in conventional petroleum refineries (RFO Coprocessing). Ensyn is developing and commercializing RFO Coprocessing in a strategic alliance with Honeywell UOP, a global leader in technology solutions for the refining industry.
RFO is the output of Ensyn’s patented RTP (rapid thermal processing) technology—a processing system that uses heat to thermally crack carbon-based non-food solid biomass feedstocks (including wood residues) into high yields of a higher-value liquid product.
The RTP pyrolysis process is based on the application of a hot “transported” bed (typically sand) that is circulating between two key vessels. Feedstocks are subjected to fast, intimate contact with the hot sand for under a few seconds, resulting in the thermal cracking of the feedstock to gases and vapors. Product vapors are rapidly quenched, or cooled, and recovered as a light liquid product.
The RTP process is actually an analog to Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC), used in petroleum refineries. An FCC system circulates catalyst in a closed loop between two key vessels in order to convert vacuum gas oil to gasoline. Ensyn uses a similar mechanical process, but typically circulates readily-available sand while converting biomass to high yields of a light liquid product.
Technology licensing, engineering services and supply of equipment is being provided to RTP projects by Honeywell UOP through Envergent Technologies, a joint venture between Honeywell UOP and Ensyn.
With Part 79 regulatory approvals now in hand for both RFDiesel and RFGasoline, Ensyn and Honeywell UOP can accelerate the commercial introduction of RFO Coprocessing, an attractive solution for refiners wishing to easily integrate cellulosic feedstocks into their operations in a cost-effective manner.—Veronica May, vice president and general manager of UOP’s Renewable Energy and Chemicals business
Ensyn is advancing its RFO Coprocessing business with UOP and an array of global industry leaders. The Part 79 registration process involved a number of these industry leaders. The liquid RFO feedstock was produced at one of Ensyn’s commercial facilities and shipped to Brazil.
Using Petrobras proprietary FCC coprocessing technology, 400 gallons of coprocessed gasoline were produced in a technical collaboration between Petrobras and the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The gasoline fraction was shipped to a major international oil company in the US for initial evaluation and preparation for the Part 79 test.
The final RFGasoline product was then shipped to Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas, where independent Part 79 testing was conducted.
Conventional biofuel solutions are based on producing blend fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, that are blended with finished fuels post-refining. In contrast, Ensyn’s coprocessing solution provides refiners with a renewable feedstock and the result is ASTM-specification transportation fuel, not a blend. In addition, the RFO Coprocessing solution is based on conversion of non-food, cellulosic feedstocks to fuels, avoiding competition with food markets.
Ensyn and UOP have a broad technology alliance that covers the production of RFO, as well as the commercialization of RFO Coprocessing. Ensyn and UOP have established a joint venture known as Envergent Technologies LLC that licenses Ensyn’s biomass conversion technology (RTP) for certain applications and provides performance guarantees to RFO projects that UOP, Ensyn and its partners are developing worldwide.
In addition, Ensyn and UOP are collaborating on the commercialization of RFO Coprocessing. Under this collaboration, UOP is interfacing with refiners and facilitating a seamless integration of RFO into their refineries.