Maverick announces its Oasis BG Gas-to-Liquid methanol plant

March 1, 2015 |


Maverick-systemElsewhere in the Digest today, we highlight the food waste crisis. Here we highlight an interesting solution to the problem of organic waste.

In North Carolina, Maverick Synfuels announced the availability of the Maverick Oasis BG Gas-to-Liquid methanol plant product line. These plants convert biogas from sources such as anaerobic digesters and landfills into higher value methanol, one of the world’s most widely used industrial chemicals.

When paired with anaerobic digesters that produce renewable biogas from organic waste, the Maverick Oasis BG product line is the first small-scale, economically viable solution that simultaneously reduces greenhouse gas emissions while helping to solve environmental problems associated with dairy and swine waste as well as other organic waste. The Maverick Oasis system offers producers of biogas an alternative to generating electricity or venting destructive greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The biogas opportunity

According to the American Biogas Council (ABC), the U.S. has over 2,000 sites producing biogas today. However, there is a tremendous growth opportunity for more renewable biogas generation.

Why not more?

In a recent report, the ABC counts nearly 11,000 sites ripe for development today: 8,002 dairy and swine farms and 2,440 wastewater treatment plants (including 381 who are making biogas but not using it) which could support a digester and 450 untapped landfill gas projects.

Why aren’t more facilities being built. According to Maverick, it’s the lack of economically viable alternatives for monetizing the biogas.

At sites equipped with anaerobic digesters, the primary use of biogas has been to generate electricity. In addition, small amounts of biogas are purified and converted into transportation fuel (compressed natural gas), pipeline quality natural gas, or combusted directly to produce heat.

Several existing anaerobic digester projects in the U.S. either have already shut down, or are seriously contemplating shutting down due to the declining revenues from renewable electricity. When electricity rates drop below $0.06/kWh, anaerobic digester projects for producing electricity are not economically viable. Other difficulties arise when producing electricity because of the very limited number of potential buyers of the electricity, which are generally utilities, and occasionally, large electricity consumers. Despite government subsidies, the economics of electricity production at these locations is challenging.

The government hand-out

Many of these programs require government support in the form of subsidies, tax credits, or other incentive programs to be economically viable. However, even those programs that promote renewable electricity from biogas are failing because of the limited size of these biogas-to-electricity projects when compared to significantly larger renewable solar or wind projects.

“The current economics associated with producing and distributing electricity at waste sites limits the growth of biogas conversion systems,” said Sam Yenne, Maverick’s CEO. “The potential for another, more profitable revenue stream can significantly increase this market. Biogas producers need to have a financially attractive alternative to flaring or generating electricity.”

A study by Bangor University and Germany’s Thünen Institute, just released, highlights the dependence of anaerobic digestion systems on subsidies, with Dr. David Styles, who led the research, commented: “Subsidies are necessary to correct for market failure and develop vital renewable energy sources,” while adding that “anaerobic digestion of manures and food wastes avoids emissions arising from manure storage and composting of food waste, even before the GHG mitigation of fossil energy replacement by the biogas produced is accounted for.”

The Maverick system

The Maverick Oasis methanol plant uses proprietary technology to convert biogas into thousands of gallons per day of ultra-clean, AA grade methanol that meets ASTM D1152 specifications. The Oasis plant is modular, so it can be rapidly deployed to an operational location, assembled by Maverick’s engineers, and integrated into the local infrastructure.

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The Maverick Oasis BG25 methanol plant is the first plant in Maverick’s product line, and has a capacity of 8,300 gallons per day (25 metric tons/day) of methanol. The methanol can be consumed onsite, or easily transported to other markets. With a footprint of 50 feet x 100 feet, the Oasis BG25 plant requires approximately one acre to accommodate storage and tanker truck access.

The modular approach

By using standard assembly line manufacturing processes and replicated design, the Maverick Oasis system significantly reduces the capital requirements and delivery time (typically 10 to 15 months) compared to larger plants that are field constructed. Each Oasis plant comes equipped with performance guarantees based on the designed methanol output rating. The factory-built plants are designed to be low-cost, efficient and reliable facilities, optimized to generate an attractive project rate of return.

Methanol vs electricity economics

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Methanol markets

Methanol is a versatile commodity with multiple uses. In the specialty chemical market, methanol is an important intermediate for producing high-value products, including olefins, acetic acid, formaldehyde, plastics, resins, and other chemical products. In the fuel market, it is used to produce biodiesel, blended with gasoline (M15, M85) or used directly as fuel (M100), converted into dimethyl ether (a diesel and LPG substitute), or converted to gasoline, diesel or jet fuel. Methanol blends make environmentally superior fuels that improve combustion, burn cleanly, and reduce emissions. In the oil industry, methanol is used to prevent hydrate formation, and in the waste-water industry, to denitrify waste water. Methanol can also be used in fuel cells to generate electricity.

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