Synthetic Fuels and Drop-in Biofuels

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.  ...

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...

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...

REG Enters Renewable Diesel With Syntroleum Purchase

Jim Lane In Oklahoma, and Iowa, Renewable Energy Group (REG; NASD:REGI) announced that it would acquire substantially all of the assets of Syntroleum Corporation (NASD:SYNM), and assume substantially all of the material liabilities of Syntroleum, for 3,796,000 shares of REG common stock worth $40.08 million at today’s market close. The purchase price subject to reduction in the event that the aggregate market value of the REG common stock to be issued would exceed $49 million or if the cash transferred to REG is less than $3.2 million). “This will help us grow our advanced biofuel business, enhance our intellectual...
Transportation GHG chart

Aviation Biofuel Overview

by Debra Fiakas, CFA The aviation industry contributes about $2.7 trillion to the world’s gross domestic product.  It may seem like a big number, but that is only 3.6% of the world’s wealth.  Aviation may be a minor player in terms of creating wealth, it is a big culprit in climate change.  Flying around the world accounts for as much as 9% of humankind’s climate change impact.  Indeed, compared to other modes of transportation, flight has the greatest climate impact. The negative impact of carbon emitted by aircraft is made even worse by the fact that the emissions point is mostly at cruising altitudes high...

Betting On Renewable Diesel: Valero or Darling?

Valero Energy (VLO:  NYSE) recently disclosed ongoing discussions to expand its renewable diesel production to a second plant that would be built and managed by its Diamond Green Diesel joint venture with Darling Ingredients (DAR:  NYSE).  The proposed plant that would be located in Port Arthur, Texas and turn out 400 million gallons of renewable diesel and 40 million gallons of naptha per year.  As a food by-products processor Darling has easy access to low-cost used cooking oils and animals fats that serves as the feed stock for Diamond Green’s renewable diesel production.  Valero management has cited increasing global demand for low- to no-carbon...
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,...

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...
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...

The Best Peak Oil Investments, Part IV: Gas-, Biomass-, and Coal-to-Liquids

Tom Konrad CFA There are many proposed solutions to the liquid fuels scarcity caused be stagnating (and eventually falling) oil supplies combined with growing demand in emerging economies.  Some will be good investments, others won't.  Here is where I'm putting my money, and why.  This fourth part takes a look at the possibility of converting coal,  natural gas or Biomass into gasoline or diesel we can use in unmodified vehicles. In the first three parts of this series, I looked at various substitutes for oil based transportation fuels: Biofuels and Biochemicals Vehicle Electrification...

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).

Senator Inhofe: 9x Cost for Biofuels Is Too Much, but 29x Was OK for...

Jim Lane Arch-critic of the cost of military biofuels Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe comes under scrutiny over earmarks for natural gas-based military fuels that cost 29 times more than conventional fuels. In Washington, the battle over advanced military biofuels took a turn for the bizarre this week, amidst revelations that a leading Senate sponsor of legislation to restrict Navy purchases of advanced biofuels, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, had previously secured earmarks for Syntroleum Corporation (SYNM) to produce natural gas-to-liquid alternative fuels which were priced 29 times higher than conventional fuels. Overall, Syntroleum reported receiving nearly $6...

The Hydrogen Problem

Jim Lane HydroMan may do his hydrogen-shift thing via water, at will – but outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have some hydrogen issues. Psst! Like cutting out a fossil hydrogen dependency for many biofuels. But, new pathways ensure that the status hydroquo may not last for long. A numbers of readers responding to “Biofuels from a raging fireball” (on research work with the raging fireball, Pyrococchus furiosus, to make biofuels and renewable chemicals from hydrogen gas and CO2) raised the question, where is all the hydrogen going to...

The Future Should Be Bright for Coal-to-Liquids

You are at a cocktail party somewhere, and, after joining a random group of revelers, you utter the following words: “If I say alternative fuel, what’s the very first thing that comes to mind…don’t even think about it, just answer!��? If this fiesta was taking place last night, 9 folks out of 10 would have answered “ethanol��?. The remaining 10% would have probably made-up a mix-bag of “biodiesel��?, “hydrogen��?, and, in extremely rare cases, “synthetic fuels��?, also known as synfuels. Ten years from now, I bet you anything that far more than 10% of the general public will be...

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,...

Aviation Biofuels: The Year of the Tree

by Jim Lane When the world’s leaders for sustainable aviation fuels have a general meeting the week before the COP24 global climate sessions (this year in Poland), you can bet that the focus will be breaking the “You Can Have Two out of Three Conundrum” of aviation fuels. Which is to say: affordable, available at scale, and sustainable, pick any two of the three. Fossil fuels are (usually) affordable and always available at scale. Sustainable jet fuels that are available at scale have generally not been affordable to date, and affordable sustainable fuels have been mostly explored at bench scale, so...
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