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Innovations

GTI Developing Biomass Conversion Technology

August 12, 2012
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

GTI’s new pilot-scale IH2 plant for biomass-to-transportation fuel  conversion

GTI’s new pilot-scale IH2 plant for biomass-to-transportation fuel conversion

Gas Technology Institute’s (GTI’s) new pilot-scale IH2 Plant in Chicago, Illinois, demonstrates their efforts to broaden biomass-to-liquid hydrocarbon fuel conversion. The 70-year-old research, development and training organization has turned much of its research toward renewable fuels. Their IH2 Technology, recently disclosed, is a catalytic thermochemical process that could be a cost-effective route to produce liquid transportation fuels from renewable resources.

The IH2 process can convert virtually any type of non-food biomass feedstock – including wood, agricultural residues, algae, aquatic plants and solid waste – to a liquid transportation fuel that is interchangeable with crude-oil-derived fuels, and is compatible with current fueling and vehicle infrastructure. According to GTI, the IH2 process differs from other biofuel technologies that produce crude or oxygen-containing intermediates that need substantial upgrading to meet current specifications for transportation fuels.

IH2 products from wood (left) and lemna (right

IH2 products from wood (left) and lemna (right

“One critical issue we’re tackling is the creation of sustainable energy that can help meet U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) obligations,” said David Carroll, GTI President and CEO. “The IH2 technology promises to be a cost-effective route to produce liquid transportation fuel from renewable resources, with the potential to convert biomass feedstock directly into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

GTI has licensed the IH2 technology to CRI Catalyst Company (CRI), a company headquartered in Houston, TX, for worldwide deployment. Commercial introduction is expected in early 2014.

“Before new technologies can effectively compete for a presence in the market, the potential economic advantage has to be compelling, along with a high probability of success,” said Vann Bush, GTI Managing Director of Energy Conversion. “Our collaboration with CRI is providing the necessary results to reduce market and technology risk. CRI provided much of the funding for the new pilot plant. They will commercialize the technology and deploy it worldwide.”

IH2 process diagram

IH2 process diagram

Pilot plant operation is a critical step along the IH2 technology commercialization pathway, as it provides valuable information to confirm and refine commercial design. The pilot plant studies will provide validation of the operational and performance factors, key to achieving commercial deployment in 2014, when total advanced biofuels RFS mandates are 3.75 billion gallons.

Woody biomass has been successfully fed through the IH2 pilot plant, and has been converted to gasoline, kerosene and diesel product, comparable to those produced in the R&D project phase. Subsequent testing will proceed with a variety of feedstocks in support of U.S. Department of Energy projects and potential technology licensors.

Alan Del Paggio, CRI Vice President, Upstream and Renewables stated, “This pilot plant aims 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 conducted by Michigan Technology University have shown the process can achieve >90% greenhouse gas reductions in comparison to fossil fuels with common feedstocks.”

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