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Fulcrum BioEnergy files LCFS application for municipal solid waste to FT diesel pathway with low CI of 37.47 g/MJ

Fulcrum BioEnergy, the parent company of Fulcrum Sierra BioFuels, has applied for a new fuel pathway under the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCSF) for its process of converting municipal solid waste (MSW) into Fischer-Tropsch (“FT”) diesel fuel.

The California LCFS mandates a 10% reduction by 2020 in the carbon intensity (CI) of transportation fuels. The program requires that transportation fuels used in California meet a baseline target for carbon intensity which is reduced each year. For 2016, the target for diesel and diesel substitutes is 99.97 gCO2e/MJ (Earlier post.) Fulcrum is requesting a CI of 37.47 g/MJ for its MSW-to-FT diesel.

Sierra BioFuels’ MSW-to-FT diesel fuel facility, which is currently under construction in Nevada, consists of a Feedstock Processing Facility and a biorefinery. The Feedstock Processing Facility will receive MSW that otherwise would have been landfilled.

A feedstock processing system shreds, screens, and sorts the MSW producing a MSW-derived feedstock meeting the feedstock specification required for conversion into renewable fuel at the biorefinery. Recyclable materials are recovered and sold to the commodity market. Residual materials (e.g. inerts, high moisture content waste) are sent to the landfill.

The MSW feedstock is transported to the biorefinery where it is converted to FT diesel using a three-step process comprising steam reforming gasification; FT liquids synthesis; and hydroprocessing upgrading. Natural gas is used for process energy and additional power is imported from the grid.

The avoided landfill emissions follow the California ARB approach used for waste material pathways.

ARB staff recommended approval of the prospective pathway with the requested CI value. Fuels with prospective CIs are not eligible to claim credits under the LCFS. ARB will require the applicant to provide one quarter of operational data once commercial production has commenced. Staff will then complete an updated lifecycle analysis and if warranted, make necessary adjustments to the originally certified prospective CI and approve a provisional CI for the pathway.

Sierra designed its biorefinery to produce more than 10 million gallons per year of renewable FT syncrude from approximately 200,000 tons of prepared MSW feedstock that would otherwise be landfilled. This renewable FT syncrude will be upgraded and processed into a low-carbon diesel or jet fuel product.



steam reforming gasification
Proven tech to reduce CO emissions.


Very nice.

Why do they call it a biorefinery ?


Can the average American family produce enough garbage/residues to serve as feed stock to produce most of the liquid fuel for their flights and ground vehicles?


Any of several chemical engineering processes including hydrogenation, hydrocracking and hydrotreating, especially as part of oil refining.


@HarveyD:  not with current ICEVs.  With PHEVs, possibly but not likely.  US MSW production was 251 million tons in 2012, with about 26% of it being plastic, metals and glass.  If the remaining ~190 million tons was all lignocellulose and could be converted to ethanol at 80 gallons/ton, you'd only get about 15 billion gallons with an energy content equivalent to about 11 billion gallons of gasoline.  This is much less than 10% of current consumption.  My own consumption cut is only about 80% over my daily driver of 2 vehicles ago.  You would need to be VERY careful of liquid-fuel consumption to make that work.

Taking a 30-40% chunk out of remaining motor fuel consumption after electrifying the bulk with PHEVs... much easier.

William Stockwell

I think the future is a car with about 30KWH of batteries about a 100 mile battery range and about 20KW of solid oxide fuel cells which can use a number of different Bio-fuels (Bio-diesel, Bio-propane, ethanol, etc)- the average person will do 95% of his driving on grid power and for the 4 or 5 times a year he plans on going more than a 100 miles he hits a button and fires up the fuel cells which will produce enough power to handle 70mph on a flat road while the battery handles acceleration.


Hope that E-Ps and WS predictions will come about in less than 20 years or so. The world would certainly benefit.

Personally, I hope to trade in our excellent Toyotas HEVs for extended range (500 Km) BEVs and/or FCEVs by 2020/2022 or whenever ultra quick public e-chargers and/or H2 stations become available.

With the current hand outs of about $8K per BEV/FCEV, I wouldn't mind paying an extra $12K or so per vehicle.


If an SOFC weights 100 pounds, it takes 100,000 BTUs or almost 30 kWh to heat it to 1000f in an hour. PEMs run at about 200f and can start at about 140f, heating time and energy required is MUCH less.
If you run a reformer, that heat and can be used to bring up the PEM. The energy of 2 kWh from batteries heats the reformer and stack, while you run on batteries until the stack and reformer come up to operating temperature.

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