SOURCE: Imperium Renewables

Imperium Renewables

Imperium Renewables

September 27, 2011 12:20 ET

Project Aims to Bring Bio-Based Jet Fuel Production to the Northwest

Aviation Biofuel Research Producing Promising Results

SEATTLE, WA--(Marketwire - Sep 27, 2011) - Seattle biofuel producer Imperium Renewables and the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) are developing a new method to make biomass-based drop-in jet fuels so that additional renewable jet fuel production facilities can be built in the Pacific Northwest. So far, their novel process has produced a meaningful amount of fuel that is being evaluated to determine how well it can blend with traditional, petroleum-based jet fuel.

The method uses a catalytic process being developed at PNNL that converts biomass-based alcohols into renewable drop-in jet fuels. Imperium entered into the project in July 2010 through a collaborative research agreement with Battelle, the nonprofit research organization that manages PNNL for DOE.

"This grant will help us provide sustainable, economically viable drop-in biofuels that will allow the Department of Defense and the airline industry to become less reliant on foreign oil," said Imperium CEO John Plaza. "Imperium is excited to be part of this partnership and to continue our work with LanzaTech, Boeing and PNNL to develop renewable jet fuels from multiple feed stocks."

The joint project started with an economic analysis to ensure the method could be financially viable when it's fully developed. In the lab, research has advanced to the bench scale. The ultimate goal is to use the process at a commercial plant such as Imperium's Grays Harbor biodiesel refinery near Hoquiam, Wash.

This work will be further developed as part of a recent award from the Department of Energy towards a new biofuel research project led by LanzaTech of Roselle, Ill. The award leverages approximately $5 million to the integrated technology which aims to develop a cost-effective technology to produce renewable drop-in jet fuel blendstock and bio-based products by employing biotechnology and catalysis. DOE is providing up to $4 million for the project, about $2 million of which is going to PNNL.

"We're excited to continue to contribute to the nation's biofuel efforts through this project and look forward to collaborating with LanzaTech and Imperium," said John Holladay of PNNL.

"We are extremely pleased with the leadership that the President, the Departments of Energy, Agriculture and the Navy have shown by several strong commitments towards the development of advanced biofuels to the aviation industry in the recent months," said Plaza. "This award and our resulting success will provide additional drop-in fuels to help meet our nation's aviation fuel needs."

LanzaTech is developing the first half of the process, which coverts biomass to intermediates such as alcohols, while PNNL is working with Imperium to convert the alcohols produced by LanzaTech into a renewable drop-in jet fuel that works in today's existing aircraft. Imperium is also providing in-kind contributions for PNNL's research and is funding related research at the University of Delaware and Michigan Technological University.

Other partners in the new project are the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Orochem Technologies and The Boeing Company, with support from The Port of Seattle.