Fulcrum BioEnergy has selected Gary, Indiana as the location of its Centerpoint BioFuels Plant, which will convert municipal solid waste (MSW) into low-carbon, renewable transportation fuel.
Fulcrum has developed and demonstrated a proprietary thermochemical process that converts MSW feedstock into low-carbon renewable transportation fuels including jet fuel and diesel. The process has been reviewed by numerous third parties including independent engineers, the US Department of Defense and the US Department of Agriculture.
The process begins with the gasification of the organic material in the MSW feedstock to a synthesis gas (syngas) which consists primarily of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. This syngas is purified and processed through the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process to produce a syncrude product which is then upgraded to jet fuel or diesel.
Fulcrum has licensed from ThermoChem Recovery International, Inc. a highly efficient and economic gasification system for the conversion of the MSW feedstock to syngas. During the gasification process, the prepared MSW feedstock rapidly heats up upon entry into the steam-reforming gasifier and almost immediately converts to syngas. A venturi scrubber captures and removes any entrained particulate, and the syngas is further cooled in a packed gas cooler scrubber.
The cleaned syngas is then processed through an amine system to capture and remove sulfur and carbon dioxide. The syngas then enters the secondary gas clean-up section that contains compression to increase syngas to the pressure required by the FT process. The end syngas product is very clean with zero sulfur content.
The FT portion of Fulcrum’s process is an adaptation of the well-established Fischer-Tropsch process which has been in commercial operations for decades. In the FT process, the purified syngas is processed through a fixed-bed tubular reactor where it reacts with a proprietary catalyst to form three intermediate FT products, a Heavy Fraction FT Liquids (HFTL) product, a Medium Fraction FT Liquids (MFTL) product and a Light Fraction FT Liquids (LFTL) product, commonly called Naphtha.
The Naphtha is recycled to the partial oxidation unit with remaining tail gas to be reformed to hydrogen and carbon monoxide.
In the last step, hydrotreating, hydrocracking and hydroisomerization upgrading steps are used to upgrade the combined HFTL and MFTL products into jet fuel.
Construction of the new plant is expected to begin in 2020 and will take approximately 18-24 months to complete. Once operational, the Centerpoint plant will divert and process approximately 700,000 tons of waste from the Greater Chicago area.
The plant will process the waste, which will be converted offsite into a prepared feedstock, and will produce approximately 33 million gallons of fuel annually.
Centerpoint will deploy Fulcrum’s proprietary process which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80% when compared to conventional fossil fuels and will generate hundreds of jobs in the region, creating 160 full-time permanent jobs and 900 construction jobs.
Fulcrum’s Centerpoint plant will be the company’s second waste-to-fuels plant. In late 2017, Fulcrum began construction on the Sierra BioFuels Plant located near Reno, Nevada. When the Sierra plant begins operations in early 2020, it will be the first commercial-scale waste-to-fuels plant in the United States.