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New IH2 Advanced Biofuels Plant Broadens Options for Converting Biomass into Transportation Fuels
The IH2 process converts virtually any type of non-food biomass feedstock—such as wood, agricultural residues, algae, and aquatic plants. High-quality hydrocarbon fuels and/or blend stocks (in the gasoline, jet and diesel range) have been produced by the IH2 technology in tests at GTI using a broad spectrum of biomass feed. The IH2 products are fungible with fossil-derived fuels and are completely compatible with current infrastructure. In this way the IH2 process differs from other biofuel technologies that produce crude or oxygen-containing intermediates that need substantial further upgrading.
GTI has licensed the IH2 technology to CRI Catalyst Company (CRI), an international company headquartered in Houston, TX, for worldwide deployment. The timeline to market is short, and commercial introduction is expected in early 2014.
“IH2 technology will increase the supply of economical, renewable, and sustainable transportation fuels in the marketplace and lower the greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector,” notes Vann Bush, GTI Managing Director of Energy Conversion. “It will help to meet the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard obligation and the global appetite for fuels with local resources – good for regional economies and better for the environment than conventional alternatives.”
Adds Alan Del Paggio CRI Vice President, Upstream and Renewables, “This pilot plant will continue to demonstrate the IH2 process as a differentiated biofuels technology. The process is designed to have low environmental impact. Since the commercial IH2 technology produces its own hydrogen and a surplus of water to be self-sufficient, it can operate in a stand-alone configuration anywhere there is sufficient biomass feed for conversion. Independent life cycle analyses have shown the process can achieve >90% greenhouse gas reductions in comparison to fossil fuels with common feed stocks.”
The new pilot plant’s ability to operate continuously provides an ideal platform for process optimisation and detailed characterisation. The facility processes 50 kilograms of dry biomass per day to demonstrate biomass handling and conversion for multiple feedstocks and produce product in sufficient quantities for fuels certification and engine testing, and will allow the IH2 process research team to validate process economics. CRI provided much of the funding for the new pilot plant.
GTI has received funding support for R&D and preliminary engineering for testing the IH2 process in the laboratory and pilot plant from the U.S. Department of Energy (EERE Office of Biomass Program). Participants in GTI’s projects include Cargill, CRI, Johnson Timber, Parabel (a company formerly known as PetroAlgae), Aquaflow, Blue Marble Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Michigan Technological University.
The first extended runs of the pilot plant will be performed using Parabel microcrops and wood.
About Gas Technology Institute (GTI)
GTI is a leading research, development and training organisation that has been addressing the nation’s energy and environmental challenges by developing technology-based solutions for consumers, industry, and government for more than 70 years. Website: www.gastechnology.org
About CRI Catalyst Company
CRI Catalyst Company is part of CRI/Criterion Inc., the global catalyst technology company of the Shell Group. CRI operates research laboratories, development facilities, manufacturing plants and business units throughout the world. It is dedicated to providing a broad customer base with effective and cost-efficient catalysts and technologies. CRI has a range of products with specific focus on environmental applications, hydrogen separation and recovery, selective oxidation and hydrogenation and the production of renewable fuels. Website: www.cricatalyst.com