In Australia, Licella had a big day, announcing the opening of its demonstration plant, a JV with Norsk Sko called Licella Fibre Fuels to commercialize the technology, and MOUs with Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand to develop aviation fuels from Licella’s bio-oil.
The Virgin deal
Virgin Australia has today signed an MoU to work with Licella on exploring the potential of the CAT-HTR technology to create an alternative, sustainable source of jet aviation fuel.
Under the MoU, Virgin Australia and Licella will jointly explore the potential of CAT-HTR through further testing of the aviation fuel the technology produces, with the aim of supporting its certification and reaching a commercial off-take agreement.
The Air New Zealand MOU
Air New Zealand also announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Licella Pty Ltd to examine the development and commercialisation of a process to convert woody biomass into sustainable biofuel in New Zealand.
Under the MOU Air New Zealand and Licella will jointly explore the potential of the technology to produce sustainable aviation biofuel in New Zealand.
The Norske Skog JV
In a related announcement, Norske Skog Australasia and Licella have formed a new joint venture company called Licella Fibre Fuels (LFF).
LFF has the exclusive global license to CAT-HTR technology to transform multiple biomass feedstocks, including forestry residues, agricultural waste and energy crops into bio-crude oil.
If constructed, the first commercial-scale plant could produce up to 500,000 barrels of bio-crude per annum, ideally suited to being refined into second generation biofuels including petrol, diesel and jet fuel.
The Licella technology
Licella has developed a unique process using a Catalytic Hydro Thermal Reactor (Cat-HTR) which converts woody materials and other bio-mass into a high quality bio-crude oil.
The process has been developed over the past three and a half years at Licella’s Pilot Facility in Somersby on the NSW Central Coast with guidance from Professor Thomas Maschmeyer of the University of Sydney.
The Licella demonstration plant
The company’s biofuels commercial demonstration facility at Somersby in New South Wales, was opened today by the Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP. The Licella plant, near Gosford, will demonstrate the production of bio-crude oil that has the potential to be refined into petrol, diesel and jet fuel that emits less carbon dioxide than traditional fossil fuels.
Licella, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ignite Energy, has been supported through a $2.2 million grant from the Australian Government’s Second Generation Biofuels Research and Development (Gen 2) Program.
Licella’s catalytic hydro thermal reactor works by converting woody materials and other bio-mass into liquid bio-crude oil and will begin trials of the technology early next year.
In addition to opening the plant Minister Ferguson also welcomed four exciting commercial agreements based on the Licella technology to advance its future deployment across a range of prominent sectors in the Australian economy.
The Licella-Ignite Energy Resources connection
If the Licella venture is sounding closely related in some ways to the Ignite Energy projects we profiled in the Digest last year, featuring a different (supercritical water-based) thermocatalytic path to bio-oil, there’s a good reason. Licella is an Ignite subsidiary.
Another project that focuses on the conversion of woody biomass to biofuels? The The NCRIS Biofuels Research Pilot Plant, located at the University of Sydney, the first semi-automated, continuous-flow kilo-scale research facility of its kind in Australia. The pilot plant will look at how biomass – particularly woody plant matter – can be used to produce biofuels and other chemicals more efficiently. More on that project here.
More on Australia and Advanced Biofuels
A thorough survey of opportunities for advanced biofuels in Australia, take a look at this comprehensive report from LEK.