Synthetic Fuels and Drop-in Biofuels

Milestone for Gas-to-Liquids Fuel Plant

Syntroleum Corp (SYNM) commemorated the successful production of more than 140,000 gallons of ultra-clean fuels at its gas-to-liquid (GTL) fuels plant at Port of Catoosa, Oklahoma. The plant also manufactured 60,000 gallons of additional products, such as syncrude. Gathered to mark the occasion were representatives from Syntroleum, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Marathon Oil Company and Integrated Concepts and Research Corporation (ICRC).

Rentech Retrenches

by Debra Fiakas CFA Clean energy solution provider Rentech, Inc. (RTK:  NYSE) is scheduled to report second quarter 2012 results the first week in August.  Usually the seasonally strong period, this year the June quarter has shareholders sweating.  That is because the warm weather conditions sent farmers out into fields earlier than usual to prepare fields.  Orders for fertilizer products from Rentech’s East Dubuque, Iowa facility were coming even before the end of the March quarter.  The net effect was to pull sales forward.  The question now is whether June will now present...

War With Iran? Buy Alternative Energy Stocks.

September is starting out as the month of speculation about a massive three day air strike on Iran.  Is Bush ready to attack Iran while our troops are still trying to stabilize both Afghanistan and Iraq?  In February, administration officials were denying it.   The preparations now going on could simply be the stick part of a negotiating strategy; the bad cop to Russia's good cop.  But Bush's chances of successful cooperation with Putin could be better. What if? If Bush does launch a massive three day air strike on Iran, what will that mean for alternative energy stocks?  I...

Velocys Thinking Big with Microreactors

by Debra Fiakas CFA Keep the applause down!  Contain your enthusiasm for yet another biomass- or gas-to-liquids company.  Over the past several weeks I have written about a number of privately-held developers of one technology or another intended to produce a drop-in renewable fuel from biomass or natural gas.  There are more,  In this post we check in on Velocys (VCL:  London), which stands out from the rest as a public company.  No matter that it's technology looks like that of the very next renewable fuel company, it is accessible to minority investors. Until recently Velocys was...

The Best Peak Oil Investments, Part VI: Barriers to Substitution

Tom Konrad CFA There are two types of solution to the liquid fuels scarcity caused by stagnating (and eventually falling) oil supplies combined with growing demand in emerging economies.  The most obvious is to find a substitute to replace oil.  These substitute have barriers to their use as a replacment petroleum based fuel.  Understanding those barriers also leads us to the investment opportunities that arise from these substitutes.  As I wrote the first five parts of this series, looking into potential substitutes for gasoline and diesel, it was clear that many potential substitutes would need...
low-sulfur Diesel Crisis

The Low Sulfur Diesel Crisis of 2020 And How To Prevent It

“The global economy likely faces an economic crash of horrible proportions in 2020, not for want of a nail but want of low-sulfur diesel fuel,” writes renowned energy analyst Phil Verleger in a note this month titled “$200 Crude, the Economic Crisis of 2020, and Policies to Prevent Catastrophe”. Not good timing for a White House re-election effort if, as expected, the blame falls on lack of preparedness in the 2017-2020 run-up to the projected crisis.. It’s a dire scenario but there’s hard data behind it, and though few go as far as Verleger, almost every expert is warning of a...
butanol

Biofuels Rocking The Boats (and Ships)

Companies that rock the boat often end up leading the way for others. While some companies have paved the way for road transportation and others reached high in the sky for aviation, there are some big boats out there that are also looking for alternative renewable fuels. Here are some companies that are answering the call for the maritime and shipping sectors with viable biofuel alternatives, the technologies and innovations, the rough waves that still lie ahead, and how they can reach that destination on the horizon. Gevo and Butanol We start with Gevo (GEVO) and their butanol. Why butanol? It...
Steve Hartiq

North American Outlook on Biofuels Challenges and Opportunities

Challenges and Opportunities in Biofuels By Steve Hartig, Former VP of Technology Development at ICM The North American biofuels market can be split into three main segments all of which have major dynamics.  What I would like to do is give a high-level overview of what I see as some of both the challenges and opportunities across these. Ethanol which is a produced from corn and sorghum in about 200 plants mainly across the Midwest and blended at about 10% with gas.  Majors such as POET, Green Plains, Flint Hills, Valero, ADM and Cargill do a bit more than half of the 16...

Rentech After Fischer-Tropsch

by Debra Fiakas CFA A long article appearing in early March 2014 on Biofuels Digest about Emerging Fuels Technology (EFT) gave me pause.  The article has since been removed from the site but it was an interesting primer on Oklahoma-based EFT’s use of the Fischer-Tropsch process to convert carbon-based feedstock to liquid fuel, otherwise called Gas-to-Liquids. While Emerging Fuels Technology has been listed in Crystal Equity Research’s Alternative Chemicals Group of the Beach Boys Index of companies trying to harness energy from the sun through biomas, I must admit the company had not been taken seriously.  ...
biodiesel operating margins

Renewable Energy Group’s New CEO: C.J. Warner

by Jim Lane In Iowa, white smoke has emerged from the Renewable Energy Group (REGI) conclave: Tesoro EVP and former Sapphire Energy CEO C.J. Warner has been named chief exec of Renewable Energy Group, at a pivotal moment for biodiesel in Washington and around the world and amidst a boom for renewable diesel like the world has never seen. REG has been making good progress with Wall Street under interim CEO Randy Howard and its share price has been on the rise, and the plants have been humming along nicely churning out hundreds of millions of gallons of biodiesel and the liquid gold...

Gevo Soars: The Story Behind the Rise

by Jim Lane What in the world has gone right with Gevo? For years now, Gevo (Nasdaq:GEVO) has remained true to a vision of low-carbon, advanced renewable fuels, when so many others pivoted away to the world of ABF — Anything But Fuels. Some tried chemicals, cannabis, algae, natural gas, nutraceuticals, vegan foods — lately, protein has been all the rage. Gevo was one of the few true believers and paid the price of stock price punishment and near-extinction, for years. While they weathered a debilitating patent battle with DuPont, until it settled and DuPont imploded. And the collapse of oil prices...

The Future of Alternative Fuels: Coal-to-Liquids

Last week I wrote a post about the future of ethanol. In it, I promised a sister piece on the future of coal-to-liquids (CTL). This comes a bit later than initially promised…I apologize to those who had been holding their breaths. I already wrote a post discussing the future of CTL not very long ago. I’m thus not going to repeat myself here, but rather supplement that post with some new info. CTL In The News As stated at the outset of the ethanol article, what drove me to write a series of posts on alternative...
fractionation of corn

Corn Fractionation Improving Ethanol Production

Ethanol and isobutanol producer Gevo, Inc. (GEVO:  Nasdaq) is installing equipment in its Luverne, Minnesota plant to improve efficiency in corn processing.  The company is leasing a proprietary corn fractionation or slicing process developed Shockwave, LLC based in DesMoines, Iowa.  The new equipment is intended to increase by-product output, including feed protein products and food-grade corn oil.  With sales of more valuable by-products Gevo expects to improve overall profit margins.  Shareholders can expect to see results after the first quarter 2019, when the equipment installation is expected to be complete. Shockwave keeps a low profile with no corporate website and no one to answer phone calls.  However,...
oil price spurs biofuels

The Return of Advanced Biofuels

by Jim Lane For several years now we have seen a significant number of players pivoting from biofuels towards smaller but higher-value markets in chemicals, nutrition,  nutraceuticals, pharma, materials, flavorings, fragrances, cosmetics and more. We’ve reported on the proliferation of applications both in the Digest and in What’s Nuu? and indeed there’s been so much that’s Nuu, it’s been dizzying at times with all the spinning and twirling. Capital costs and policy uncertainty have played their part, but the foot on the pedal for many has been oil prices. The scale of operations to compete with oil prices in the 2014-2017 period...

Velocys: A Key To Advanced Biofuels At Scale

Jim Lane Four new technologies approach scaled operations, all with one element in common – Velocys (VLS.L) technology on the back-end. Why Velocys, why now? The Digest investigates. In Oklahoma, Southeast Oregon, Eastern Ohio, and a site near London we’re about to see the commercial-scale debut of Velocys technology, a smaller scale gas-to-liquids processing technology that converts natural gas or biomass into premium liquid products, such as diesel and jet fuel. In this case, specifically designed for smaller scales, resulting in standardized modular plants that are economic, easier to ship and faster to install, at lower risk,...

EPA Reneges on Trump’s Biofuels Deal

by Jim Lane “EPA Reneges on Trump’s Biofuels Deal”, said the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association in reacting to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s new plans for fulfilling federal renewable fuel requirements. EPA released a proposed supplemental rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard today, and the bioeconomy is up in arms, and the outrage is centered in farm country, once a Trump bastion of support. “IRFA members continue to stand by President Trump’s strong biofuels deal announced on Oct. 4, which was worked out with our elected champions and provided the necessary certainty that 15 billion gallons would mean 15 billion gallons, even after...
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