Licella, Canfor’s Arbios Biotech JV form alliance with Shell Catalysts & Technologies

May 10, 2021 |

Breaking news came in today from the wonders down under, Australia-based Licella, in their joint venture with Canfor (Arbios Biotech) – a just inked a new global alliance with Shell Catalysts & Technologies that aims to create low-carbon, circular economy focused biorefinery, with Licella’s Cat-HTR (Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor) technology at the core.

In today’s Digest, why it’s significant, the partners, the tech, the backstory, and more.

The deal

The Digest just got word that Arbios Biotech, Licella’s joint venture with integrated forest products company Canfor, and Shell Catalysts & Technologies, formed a new global alliance aimed at utilizing SC&T’s upgrading technology capability in the pursuit of a low-carbon intensity, circular-economy focused biorefinery.

It will allow for Shell upgrader units to work alongside commercial Cat-HTR plants to create a continuous and economically efficient process where advanced biofuels can be created from post-consumer biomass and residues on site.

By combining the proprietary upgrading expertise of SC&T with Licella’s Cat-HTR technology, the collaboration can deliver a complete biorefinery solution that can be expanded commercially into the broader market.

This alliance between Arbios Biotech and SC&T anticipates that Shell upgrader units will work in concert with commercial Cat-HTR plants, strategically located near aggregated post-consumer biomass feedstock sources. By linking SC&T upgrader units with Cat-HTR plants, Arbios Biotech would have the capability to upgrade biocrude to finished products in one continuous, efficient process.

Reactions from the stakeholders

“We are very pleased to be working with Arbios Biotech on this exciting initiative as they look to develop a low-carbon circular economy,” said Kathren Murray, VP New Business Development with Shell Catalyst & Technologies. “We look forward to further developing a strong and collaborative relationship that will meet the needs of the global marketplace.”

“Shell Catalysts & Technologies will play a critical role in helping Arbios Biotech realize its vision of a low-carbon regional circular economy, bringing an end-to-end biorefinery solution in many jurisdictions where no such options exist today, while also supporting efforts to deliver attractive economic returns and desired sustainability outcomes,” said Don Roberts, Chairman of Arbios Biotech.

What exactly is the Licella-Canfor JV – Arbios Biotech?

In case you missed it last October, The Digest covered the Licella/Canfor joint venture – aka Arbois Biotech – here.

Arbios Biotech is a joint venture between tech pioneer Licella and integrated forest products company Canfor to convert end-of-life wood and biomass into renewable biofuels and biochemicals. Licella’s Cat-HTR tech uses near or at supercritical water to create low-carbon biocrude, a renewable and sustainable bio oil from which low-carbon transportation fuels and chemicals can be produced. And Canfor is one of the world’s largest producers of sustainable lumber, pulp and paper, and is a North American leader in green energy production. Arbios Biotech represents two leaders coming together with a shared vision – to create a low-carbon circular economy. Sounds like a match made in heaven!

The JV was formed to commercialize Licella’s Cat-HTR platform, an advanced hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) technology, for various forms of wood and post-consumer biomass around the world, particularly in North America, South America and Europe.

And Licella made news in March with several big announcements, including joining forces with a group of high-profile companies like Nestlé and LyondellBasell, who have collaborated to produce Australia’s first soft plastic food wrapper made with food-grade recycled content. Second, Licella launched a feasibility study with other key industry stakeholders, including major Australian retailer Coles to determine the technical, economic, and environmental benefits of a local advanced recycling industry and will look at potential sites in Victoria (Australia) for a Cat-HTR plant. And just a few weeks ago, Dow and Mura Technology partnered together using Licella’s tech for Mura’s new HydroPRS (Hydrothermal Plastic Recycling Solution) process to play pivotal role in Mura’s global rollout of 1 million tons of recycling capacity by 2025.

What about Shell Catalysts & Technologies?

Let’s look at the big Shell first – it has set itself an ambition to become, by 2050 or sooner, a net-zero emissions energy business. How?

One way is the creation of Shell Catalysts & Technologies which is at the forefront of developing new services and technologies for the energy and petrochemical industries. They have expressed commitment to provide the market with cutting-edge products which reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions, including solutions that support waste into biofuels. These innovations include advanced catalysts for refining and petrochemicals, as well as licensing and technical services to support these ambitions.

Shell Catalysts & Technologies is an affiliate of Royal Dutch Shell plc, a global group of energy and petrochemical companies with operations in more than 70 countries.

Just in the past month or so, Shell has made headlines with several other initiatives proving their commitment to a bioeconomy. As reported in The Digest just last week, Bosch, Shell, and Volkswagen have come up with a low-carbon gasoline. Their new fuel, called Blue Gasoline, contains up to 33 percent renewables, ensuring a well-to-wheel reduction in carbon emissions of at least 20 percent per kilometer driven. This means a fleet of 1,000 VW Golf VIII 1.5 TSIs alone could save more than 230 metric tons of CO₂ per year, assuming an annual mileage of 10,000 kilometers each. Shell will offset the remaining carbon emissions from the use of Blue Gasoline through certified offset arrangements.

And how about Shell’s recent scale-up support in hurtling sustainable aviation fuel towards commercial deployment! The Digest reported just over a month ago huge news that Shell invested in LanzaJet, to scale the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel. And there could be more. In addition to its initial investment in LanzaJet and similar to the phased investment approach used with all of the LanzaJet investors, Shell will have the opportunity to make further investments in the construction of larger-scale production facilities over the coming years. This phased investment approach significantly accelerates the timeline of commercial deployment, and comes as LanzaJet continues its work to build the first-of-kind, commercial-scale plant (10 million gallons per year capacity) in Soperton, Georgia, USA. Development at Freedom Pines Fuels continues on schedule with operations beginning in 2022, LanzaJet has informed us. The Digest also reported in March that Shell would like to add bio-power-to-liquid plant at Rhineland Refinery in Germany.

Bottom Line

This is exciting news for many reasons – a huge refining and petrochemicals company walking the walk and implementing biosolutions for a more circular economy, a boost to getting innovative hydrothermal liquefaction tech commercialized and in use, a step in working together towards a better future, and more. Stay tuned as we anticipate more exciting news like this from these major players in the future.

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