The PEFI licensed technology
will produce clean burning alcohol fuel from conversion of synthesis gases
produced from biomass. The wood residues to be converted are gasified in a
closed system and cleaned and treated resulting in removed carbon monoxide
(CO) and hydrogen (H2) which are then converted into a mix of ethanol and
PRODUCTION OF MIXED ALCOHOL FUELS
FROM GASIFIED BIOMASS (Ecalene™) Ecalene™ DE (Denatured Ethanol)
Alcohols, and ethanol in particular, have been receiving considerable
attention for use in blends with gasoline as a replacement for Methyl
Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE), and as substitutes for gasoline in E85 and
flex-fuel vehicles. Unfortunately ethanol, produced mainly by the
traditional fermentation/distillation process, is also currently
expensive and requires federal subsidies to produce a gasoline blend at
a competitive price. Feedstocks are limited to sugars and starches for
fermentation processes. Acid hydrolysis processes in development have
the potential to utilize more cellulosic feedstocks, but are unable to
utilize lignin, which can comprise up to one fourth of biomass. The
economic viability of acid hydrolysis approaches tends to be controlled
by identifying uses for lignin which is a waste product for the
The technology that Power Energy Fuels, Inc. has licensed will
commercialize a process to produce ethanol and other alcohols from
gasified biomass registered with the EPA as Ecalene™.
of biomass will be performed by both a boiler to produce all the power
needed for the compression but also for the heat to operate a Steam
Gasifier SG that will produce the synthesis gas in the ratio's needed to
produce the Ecalene™ product. The synthesis gas will then be passes
through a patented MoS2-based catalytic conversion of synthesis gas to a
mixed alcohol product, which consists primarily of straight-chain
terminal C1-C6 alcohols and has been determined to fall under the
Environmental Protection Agency's Octamix waiver. The target composition
of the product is currently 0% methanol, 75-80% ethanol, ~15% propanol,
~5% butanol, ~3% pentanol, and ~2% hexanol and higher; however, the
distribution of alcohols in the product is highly adjustable by
modifying process parameters. Projected uses are a 10% blend with
gasoline or as a 100% alcohol fuel hydrous or anhydrous for Ecalene™.
The gasification/catalytic conversion approach has advantages over
fermentation processes and acid hydrolysis processes because carbon in
any form in biomass; sugars, starches, cellulose, hemicellulose, and
lignin, can be converted. Preliminary economic analyses of the proposed
process indicate that the mixed alcohol product can be produced at a
15-20% cost savings compared to production of ethanol by fermentation.
The economics will be even more favorable when feedstocks with a tipping
fee are processed in the proposed system.
Technical Merit and Approach
For this project the integrated process will produce approximately
11,500 gallons per day of mixed alcohols. A four-month project is
proposed to develop the combined process, construct and test the
necessary pilot-scale equipment. Extensive engine tests on the resulting
fuels have been conducted and it has been proven to be superior. PEFI
has selected a propriatory Catalytic Steam Reformer that has been proven
commercially with a 150 ton/day plant operating for over 7 years in
converting biomass to synthesis gas. Key technical issues have been
overcome to commercialize the integrated process of making Ecalene™DE
from the synthesis gas created from this gasifier.
Gasification allows biomass to be converted to a clean fuel gas form
(synthesis gas) via a thermochemical process. The synthesis gas can then
be catalytically converted to fuels and chemicals or used with a variety
of energy conversion devices to produce power. For the proposed process,
a technology base is needed for oxygen-blown gasifiers or steam
gasification to produce synthesis gas with a composition in the range
acceptable for the alcohol reactor at the right temperatures and
pressures. Simple approaches to gasification of biomass tend to produce
synthesis gas that contains too much N and CO2 and insufficient H2
relative to CO.
The alcohol synthesis process utilizes a MoS2-based catalyst
originally discovered by Dow Chemical Co. and Union Carbide in the mid
1980s and studied by academic research groups at Lehigh University and
West Virginia University. Recently patented improvements licensed by
PEFI to the process have significantly improved yields and can further
reduce the cost of production. The research published to date has
indicated that the technology is ready for commercial application.
The mixed alcohol product is planned for initial marketing as a 10%
blend with gasoline. This product is also registered and is suitable for
blends with diesel fuels from 20 to 30% and higher blends. Economic
benefits include jobs related to construction, operation and maintenance
of plants, and jobs related to production of catalyst. A unique feature
of this approach is that many waste sources of biomass and other
materials, including wood waste, animal waste (dairy, hog, poultry
etc.), and Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) can be converted to alcohols.
The banning of MTBE and the oil market is driving the projected
increase in the use of ethanol and other alcohols such as Ecalene™ will
be to replace it. After production capacity of ethanol and other
alcohols is sufficient to replace MTBE, oil displacement will depend
largely on increasing the amount of gasoline blends sold. Currently,
reformulated gasoline accounts for approximately one third of the
gasoline sold. Increased production of ethanol and alcohols at
reasonable prices could increase that fraction and substantially
increase oil displacement. As a gasoline blend, the displacement could
reach over 1,000,000 barrels a day, assuming most of the gasoline market
eventually contains 10% alcohol. The fuel has already performed over and
above as expected in flex-fuel vehicles, potential markets and oil
displacement will increase substantially for the straight hydrous and
Commercialization and deployment
This product is expected to launch into the market place with at
least three or more projects utilizing the gasification process with one
or more projects utilizing the plasma arc gasification technology.
Ecalene™ is registered with US EPA per CFR 79.23 as a fuel additive. The
process includes a catalyst that is tolerant to sulfur dioxide and other
sulfur compounds, and can handle "dirty" synthesis gas, where other
technologies need a very clean synthesis gas such as methanol.
Technical, Management, and Facility Capabilities
Power Energy Fuels, Inc. (PEFI) is a Colorado-based corporation
formed in 1996. The company has the exclusive worldwide licensing rights
to the use of a patented catalytic process that will convert synthesis
gas from any carbonaceous source into a mixed alcohol product, trade
named EcaleneTM. The product is registered with the United States
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a fuel additive.
The steam reformer uses a patent pending indirect heating method that
permits the steam reforming of organic-rich materials into a
medium-calorific value product gas (H2 and CO) that can further be
converted to ethanol Ecalene™ or other products or used directly as a
fuel. The steam-reforming technology is uniquely capable of processing a
wide spectrum of organic feedstocks, including Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF),
sewage sludge, paper mill sludge (primary, secondary, or recycle mill
rejects), biomass, coal, scrap tires, hazardous waste, pulp mill spent
liquor, or any other materials containing organics, to produce a
hydrogen-rich, medium-calorific value gas.
Ethanol derived from biomass has great potential in reducing
dependence on foreign oil as well as providing environmental benefits as
a replacement for MTBE in gasoline and for blending with gasoline up to
85% for use in flex fuel vehicles. The grade and quality of mixed
alcohols produced allows it to be blended with diesel fuel to reduce
emissions to meet upcoming regulations. Present production based on
fermentation/distillation is concentrated in the Midwest. The current
cost of ethanol produced from the traditional method is non-competitive
without government subsidies. Potential production quantities, even with
the new plants being constructed, will not meet projected Renewable Fuel
Standards demand of 5.1 billion gallons per year by the year 2012.
Transportation costs from production facilities in the Midwest to the
Pacific Northwest adds an additional significant cost that is a true
economic barrier to ethanol use in that area of the country. Discussions
with area splash mixers revealed ethanol produced in Brazil is
transported for use in the Portland area to meet demand for 10% blend.
Biomass in the form of wood residues is plentiful in the Pacific
Northwest as well as other areas of the country. The entire area would
benefit environmentally from cleaner air by developing a beneficial use
for wood waste/residues and reduced ethanol blended fuels cost.
Ethanol/mixed alcohols Ecalene™ production from wood fiber will fill the
need for this area as well as other locations in Arizona, New Mexico and
the entire USA.
By law, no wood residues in Oregon can be landfilled or consumed by
open burning. Currently, most of the wood residues are processed into
boiler fuel and consumed in the pulp and paper industry. There is
sufficient biomass available for boiler fuel and ethanol production for
this facility and other locations when the commercialization phase is to
The PEFI licensed technology will produce clean burning alcohol fuel
from conversion of synthesis gases produced from biomass. The wood
residues to be converted are gasified in a closed system and cleaned and
treated resulting in removed carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2)
which are then converted into a mix of ethanol and higher alcohols.
The catalyst and process have been extensively researched at
Brookhaven National Laboratories in Upton, New York by Dr. Devinder
Mahajan (head scientist for the Catalyst Department). Drs. Vijay Sethi,
Michael Hauck, and Andrew Lucero of Western Research Institute have
conducted extensive research on the catalyst and method of production of
Applying the cogeneration aspect to provide power for the proposed
process will significantly reduce costs of production and will provide a
beneficial environmental impact as compared to purchasing fossil fuel
derived power. Other environmental benefits include reduced NOx, SOx,
and CO2. Wastes and byproducts from the process will be recycled to the
fluidized bed combustor and utilized to generate heat and/or be
reconfigured in the combustion process. The cogeneration approach will
also allow future plants to be located close to the sources of biomass,
thereby reducing one of the biggest economic barriers to the
implementation of this technology - transportation of feedstock to the
Power Energy Fuels, Inc. PEFI, has licensed Forest Rescue LLC to
build a Commercial/ Demonstration plant. FRLLC will invite a select
number of clients to participate in the plant. This plant will answer
all of the questions that a client may have in the building of a plant.
Participants would have access to raw data and Engineering Drawings,
positioning the client to finance and build other plants.
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