Oxford Catalysts Group, Velocys: Biofuels Digest’s 5-Minute Guide

December 17, 2012 |

Company description:  

(includes Oxford Catalysts Ltd, based near Oxford, UK and Velocys, Inc., based in Plain City, Ohio). The Oxford Catalyst Group Develops of catalysts and microchannel reactor technology for the generation of clean fuels from both conventional fossil fuels and biomass

Address: 

115e Milton Park, Oxford OX14 4RZ, UK

Year founded:

2001: Velocys, Inc.

2004: Oxford Catalysts Ltd.

2008: Oxford Catalysts Group

Chief Executive Officer and contact email: 

Roy Lipski

Annual Revenues: 

£8.6 million (year ended December 2009) ($13.5 million approximately)

Major Investors (if a public company, please provide trading symbol and exchange).

  • Battelle Memorial Institute:
  • Lansdowne Partners
  • Pioneer Investments
  • IP2IPO Management Limited
  • Dr Tiancun Xiao (company co-founder)
  • Professor Malcolm Gree (company co-founder)
  • University of Oxford
  • Roy Lipski

Type of Technology(ies): 

  • Fischer Tropsch (FT) microchannel reactor technologies for the efficient, economical and environmentally friendly small scale distributed production of biofuels via biomass to liquids (BTL) and liquid fuels from gas via gas to liquids (GTL)
  • Microchannel reactor technology for steam methane reforming (SMR)
  • Other applications for microchannel reactors, including hydrocracking,  clean chemical manufacturing, homogenisation, emulsification and distillation
  • Patented OMX method for the development and preparation of tailored highly active selective and stable catalysts for use in microchannel reactors and for the generation of clean fuels from other applications.

Feedstocks: 

  • For biofuels: a wide range of waste feedstocks including agricultural, municipal and construction waste, forestry waste
  •  For gas-to-liquid fuels: stranded and associated gas from oil wells which would otherwise be reinjected, vented or flared

Fuel Type (if applicable): (e.g. ethanol, biobutanol, biodiesel, renewable diesel, renewable jet fuel, power etc):

  • Synthetic diesel and jet fuel from biomass waste feedstocks via BTL
  • Synthetic diesel and jet fuel from stranded and associated gas via GTL

Fuel Cost (if applicable – per US gallon): 

Depending on the feedstock used, the synthetic diesel and jet fuels produced are economic when oil prices are in the range of $50 – $70/barrel.

Offtake partners (if applicable)

Not currently applicable, but working with the Portuguese incorporated holding company SGC Energia to market the technology.

Co-products (if applicable)

  • Certain cuts of the FT product can be used as high quality and high value synthetic lubricants for automotive applications.
  • The process also produces high temperature steam which can be used for district heating or to assist the initial gasification stage of the process to enhance process efficiency.
  • Some light organics are also produced. These can be used as chemical feedstocks or returned to the gasifier to assist in the gasification stage.

Past Milestones: 

  • A binding memorandum of understanding between the Thai state-owned energy company, PTT, and the Oxford Catalysts Group. Under the terms of the MOU, PTT will provide funding of US$5 million over 2 years to support the development and commercialisation of Oxford Catalysts Group’s steam methane reforming (SMR) technology
  • Joint demonstration testing agreement (JDTA) between Velocys, Inc., offshore facility developers MODEC, global engineering firm Toyo Engineering and the Brazilian State Oil Company, Petrobras to build and operate a microchannel GTL demonstration facility in Foraleza, Brazil.
  • Setting up and successful running of a BTL demonstration plant jointly operated by the Oxford Catalysts Group and the Portuguese incorporated holding company SGC Energia for the small scale distributed production of biofuels via the FT reaction at the biomass gasification facility in Güssing, Austria.  The demonstration plant has been fully operational and running smoothly since August 2010 and will lead to the Oxford Catalysts Group’s first commercial orders.

Business Model: (e.g. owner-operator, technology licensor, fee-based industry supplier, investor)

Technology developers and licensors

Competitive Edge(s):

  • Catalyst development, including OMX, a patented method, for producing highly active and more stable catalysts by enabling greater control of the particle size resulting in a narrower particle size distribution of crystallites in the nanometre diameter range which exhibit terraced surfaces. Both of these features enhance catalyst activity. OMX also produces fewer very small crystallites that could sinter at an early stage of operation. This results in greater catalyst stability.
  • Microchannel process technology. The Oxford Catalysts Group has the world’s largest portfolio in microchannel process technology, which potentially has a very wide range of applications, including biofuels and clean fuels production (see below), hydrocracking, distillation and homogenisation.
  • Biofuels and clean fuels production, including microchannel reactor technology for the small scale distributed production of biofuels via BTL, and the small scale production of liquid fuels via SMR and GTL. Microchannel technology for hydrocracking, distillation, emulsification and homogenisation.

Distribution, Research, Marketing or Production Partnerships or Alliances. 

  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Oxford Catalysts Group and the Thai state energy company, PTT, for the development of microchannel steam methane reforming technology (SMR).
  • Joint demonstration testing agreement (JDTA) between Oxford Catalyst Group member, Velocys, Inc., offshore facility devleopers, MODEC, Toyo Engineering and the Brazilian State Energy Company, Petrobras, to build and operate a microchannel gas to liquid (GTL) demonstration facility in Fortaleza, Brazil.
  • Joint Development Agreement (JDA) between Velocys, Inc., and the Portuguese incorporated holding company SGC Energia (SGCE) to set up an FT microchannel reactor demonstration plant at the biomass gasification facility in Güssing, Austria. SGCE will place first orders for microchannel FT reactors on completion of the technical milestones during this demonstration.

Stage  (Bench, pilot, demonstration, commercial)

Some of the technologies are under development (distillation, clean chemicals, homogenisation), some (BTL and GTL) are at, or approaching, the demonstration stage. Emulsification technology is at the commercial stage, and BTL technology is close to commercial.

Website URL

Company website (Velocys)

Company website (Oxford Catalysts)

 

 

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