DOE pushes renewable jet fuel towards commercial-scale with key grants to LanzaTech, Byogy, AVAPCO-led teams

December 30, 2016 |

bd-ts-123016-jet-cover-smIn Washington, the Energy Department announced the selection of six projects for up to $12.9 million in federal funding, entitled, “Project Definition for Pilot- and Demonstration-Scale Manufacturing of Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Biopower.” These projects, required to share the cost at a minimum of 50%, will develop and execute plans for the manufacturing of advanced or cellulosic biofuels, bioproducts, refinery-compatible intermediates, and/or biopower in a domestic pilot- or demonstration-scale integrated biorefinery.

This is Phase 1, then there’s Phase 2

The projects will be evaluated in two phases. Award recipients will design and plan their facilities in Phase 1. In order to continue to Phase 2, projects will be evaluated on Phase 1 progress, as well as the ability to secure the required 50% cost share funding for Phase 2. DOE anticipates Phase 2 awards to be made in fiscal year 2018 to construct and operate the pilot- or demonstration-scale facility. Projects could receive additional federal funds of up to $15 million for pilot-scale facilities or $45 million for demonstration-scale facilities.

The minimum throughputs

The funding announcement is in three topic areas, with differing throughput levels.

• Topic Area 1: Pilot scale production of Biofuels from high impact cellulosic, algal, or biogas feedstocks. Minimum feedstock throughput must be 1 dry metric ton (DMT) per day or equivalent throughput of algal biomass or biogas. Bioproducts and biopower are only allowed as co-products from the facility.

• Topic Area 2: Demonstration scale production of Biofuels from high impact cellulosic, algal, or biogas feedstocks. Minimum feedstock throughput must be 50 DMT per day or equivalent of algal biomass or biogas. Bioproducts and biopower are only allowed as co-products from the facility.

• Topic Area 3: Production of either biopower or Biofuels from biosolids and other allowable Wet Waste Feedstock streams. Bioproducts are also allowed as co-products from the facility. Minimum feedstock throughput must be 1 DMT per day.

And the winners are…

Demonstration-Scale Integrated Biorefineries:

  • AVAPCO, LLC (Atlanta, Georgia): The AVAPCO, LLC ($3.7 million) project will develop a demonstration-scale integrated biorefinery that combines AVAPCO’s biomass-to-ethanol process with project partner Byogy’s alcohol-to-jet process to create an integrated process that produces jet fuel from woody biomass. In addition to the jet fuel primary product, the demonstration facility will also produce cellulosic renewable diesel and other bioproducts with another project partner, Genomatica.
  • LanzaTech, Inc. (Skokie, Illinois): LanzaTech, Inc. ($4 million) has brought together a large team to design, construct, and operate an integrated demonstration-scale biorefinery that will use industrial waste gases to produce 3 million gallons per year of low-carbon jet and diesel fuels. LanzaTech and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have already successfully demonstrated their renewable jet fuel production technology.

Pilot-Scale Integrated Biorefineries:

  • Global Algae Innovations (San Diego, California): Global Algae Innovations ($1.2 million) has developed novel technologies that improve several stages of the algae production process. This project seeks to design a pilot-scale algae biofuel facility with improved productivity of open pond cultivation and more energy-efficient algae harvest.
  • ThermoChem Recovery International, Inc. (Baltimore, Maryland): ThermoChem Recovery International, Inc. ($0.8 million) will work in collaboration with project partners to design a pilot-scale integrated biorefinery to produce transportation fuels from woody waste and agricultural feedstocks. The project proposes many improvements throughout the system, which in combination would allow for smaller, more cost-effective integrated biorefineries with increased liquid fuel yield.

Pilot-Scale Waste-to-Energy Projects:

  • Rialto Bioenergy, LLC (Carlsbad, California): Rialto Bioenergy LLC ($2 million) plans to design the Rialto Advanced Pyrolysis Integrated Biorefinery facility that will have the capacity to convert 300 tons per day of biomass such as food extracted from municipal solid waste and wastewater treatment plant biosolids into a high-nutrient fertilizer and up to 6.4 megawatts of carbon-negative, renewable biopower.
  • Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (Alexandria, Virginia): Water Environment & Reuse Foundation ($1.2 million) will design a pilot-scale integrated biorefinery that utilizes wastewater treatment plant sludge. This project will convert residual sludge and solids into biocrude oil, biogas, and fertilizer. The biocrude oil, when upgraded, is comparable to fossil-derived crude and can produce a variety of fuels including gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel with nearly zero net carbon emissions. The biogas produced by the system will be used to offset power needs elsewhere in the plant or will be sold to the grid.

Reactions from stakeholders

“The 2 companies picked for the DOE commercial demonstration stage are both Alcohol-to-jet technology,” Byogy CEO Kevin Weiss told The Digest. “It seems that ATJ is the hot topic – finally. I really believe we were ahead of our time.”

“We are pleased to end 2016 in this way and we are super grateful for the DOE’s support on our path to commercialize low carbon aviation fuel technology,” LanzaTech CEO Jennifer Holmgren told The Digest. “Who knew that someday you would be able to recycle waste gases into drop in fuels? But we are even more grateful to the DOE as a community than as an individual company.  It is the DOE that has continued to make strides to help the US create a vibrant biofuel economy.  This demonstration project is just one approach; the link below includes the other projects also receiving funding.”

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