The renewing of Nevada renewable fuels and the rise of Ryze Renewables

August 3, 2017 |

This is actually DuPont’s IsoTherming tech (click for a great YouTube experience)— but it gives you some very good ideas about how the technology works.

In Nevada, Ryze Renewables has two new renewable diesel projects totaling $250M now in planning for the Nevada and Las Vegas areas.

There’s been some confusion about the technology in question — described locally around Nevada as IsoTherming, which we understood as a DuPont trademark — but according to one of the Digesterati:

“IsoTherming was developed by Prof Ackerson’s company Process Dynamics Inc. — it was licensed to DuPont for petroleum refining applications. PDI’s MaxFlux hydrotreating technology is applicable to biofuels. The technology is most advantageous when H2 consumptions are relatively low, ca., <1000 scfb, but that’s not the case for renewable oils where the consumptions are high, ca., >2000 scfb.”

More on MaxFlux here.

(Subsequent to publication of this story, a Ryze representative called The Digest to say that the technology in question is from Process Dynamics, but is not MaxFlux or IsoTherming).

The Ryze Reno project

When developed for the Reno area, the project was intended to cost $105 million for 40 million gallons of production capacity, would used corn oil and other feedstocks sourced from Noble Group, and was the subject of an $67.2 million USDA loan guarantee (or, 80% of the overall $84 million loan) with the Greater Nevada Credit Union as the lender of record.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “Ryze Renewables received tax abatements last year to set up a $140 million diesel plant at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center,” and Pearson told the Vegas paper that “equipment is starting to move into the facility”.

A new project in Las Vegas

After the Reno project applications were filed last fall, Ryze Renewables also surfaced in a series of Las Vegas market applications for tax abatements and incentives, typical for a newly inbound business. This project is bigger: equipment costs have grown from $44 million to $73 million, and capacity has expanded to 60 million gallons per year; however, the project will also employ 67 employees, and the company projected an average hourly rate of $26.16.

Documents filed with the city of Las Vegas reveal that “Ryze Renewables Las Vegas, LLC plans to acquire and repurpose an existing biodiesel processing facility located in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The plant is not currently producing fuel, but has extensive existing infrastructure,” and that “a major fuel company has agreed to purchase the entirety of the Renewable Diesel produced at this facility to sell into the southern California market.”

The Las Vegas application states that the company “is expected to begin production in the third quarter of 2018,” and the company said that it has a target date for the physical move into the former biodiesel facility in Q3 2017.

Good news for that project in the meantime, the state Office of Economic Development has green-lighted $9.4 million in tax abatements for the Las Vegas project.

The project location

To The Digest, the Las Vegas location sounds very much like the old Biodiesel of Las Vegas plant, which you can see below, and which was located in North Las Vegas. That venture stopped posting on its Facebook page in mid 2012. It had a production capacity of between 4 and 8 million gallons, depending on your source of hard data — either way, the Ryze project would involve a significant increase in the site’s production.

Better Carbon Score?

Ryze said in project-related documentation that it would “manufacture 100% renewable diesel which is converted from distiller’s corn oil, esters, fatty acids or other nonfood renewable feedstock. The company’s process utilizes a unique patented technology that introduces hydrogen within a hydrotreating reactor more efficiently than competing technologies. This allows the company to use feedstocks that have a better Carbon intensity value than the ones used by other processes.”

Ryze builds media attention

Ryze CEO Matthew Pearson spoke on camera with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to highlight the attractions of renewable diesel, which is available on YouTube here:

Super-high cetane values

We noted that the company proposes to produce renewable diesel with a 72 cetane value. That’s sky high. There’s lots to like about that — a cetane value of 55 is generally considered top of the line, but Fischer-Tropsch diesels are often seen in this range, according to the Fuels and Lubricants Handbook. from ASTM.

According to FarmWeekNow: “A high-cetane diesel fuel provides more complete combustion, improved cold starts, less engine noise and knocking, reduced white smoke and warm-up time, fewer misfires, lower exhaust emissions: nitrogen oxide, hydro carbon, carbon monoxide, and sometimes particulate matter.”

The proposed location at the time was the old G2 Diesel facility, just a few doors from the proposed location of Fulcrum BioEnergy’s 10 million gallon MSW-to-fuels project. G2 Diesel, which converted natural gas into a diesel substitute, operated for several years before the plant was idled in recent years primarily owing to the oil price crash.

Renewable diesel worth $4 a gallon?

What’s renewable diesel worth today in California? $4.02 per gallon is our current estimate, using this data:

$1.50 per gallon — ULSD price (CBOT)
$1.85 per gallon — RFS value ($1.09 for D4 RINs at 1.7 RINs per gallon)
$0.67 per gallon — CARB value (estimated from $50 carbon price and 10 gCO2/MJ estimate based on feedstock mix, and adjusted for higher energy density of diesel)
If the $1.01 per gallon biomass-based diesel tax credit returns, then that would boost the value to $5.03, using today’s prices.

Anatomy of A Project

You can see the project, as envisioned by its sponsors and stakeholders, in a series of public documents available online, and which we have conveniently collected in: Anatomy of a Project: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to Ryze Renewables’s proposed Nevada projects.

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