Friday, December 17, 2010

Biomass to Jet Fuel Using Microbial Lipid Fermentation


The US military's DARPA has awarded Logos Technology with a $17.5 million phase 2 award to produce jet fuel from biomass, using microbial lipid fermentation.
This contract is to demonstrate an end-to-end Lipid Fermentation Process (LFP) at scale for the commercially viable production, from cellulosic biomass, of Hydrotreated Renewable Jet (HRJ) spec jet fuel—a near term surrogate for JP-8 that can be readily commercialized.

HRJ is produced from renewable oils (lipids) by methods common in petroleum refining. Fatty acids and triglycerides are hydrotreated to remove oxygen, and the resulting paraffinic hydrocarbons are processed to yield a mixture of straight-chain, branched-chain, and cyclic paraffinic hydrocarbons with collective properties that are similar to those of conventional jet fuel.

Oleaginous yeast can produce lipids from the sugars resulting from the pretreatment and hydrolysis of biomass; certain fungi can also produce lipids, either via solid-state fermentation of biomass or from the biomass hydrolyzate.

This primary program effort is to consist of optimized process development and engineering along with regionally specific economic modeling to produce fuel, demonstrate process energy efficiency and support commercialization.

...This phase of the BioJET program requires the delivery of larger quantities of jet fuel with a projected cost of production of JP-8 at commercial scale implementation (50Mgal/yr) at less than $3.00 per gallon. _GCC
Al Fin bio-synthesists believe that the greatest value of current advanced biofuels research is to put a rough ceiling on future prices of hydrocarbon fuels. Peak oil doomsayers claim that liquid fuels will have no price ceilings when "peak oil" truly hits the fan.

But that claim has already been falsified by the fact that shale gas cost per BTU is well less than half the cost of crude oil per BTU. As efficiencies of conversion from gas to liquids improve, we will see the "price ceiling" effect of shale gas begin to affect markets. Something similar will begin to happen in about ten years, as more efficient biomass to liquids processes begin to scale up.

Like everything associated with energy these days, oil futures markets are heavily politicised, and infiltrated by persons whose behaviour is -- shall we say -- somewhat less than ethical. The fluctuations of oil markets are highly profitable to those who know how to put their fingers on the scale in a reasonably surreptitious manner. But the conversion of alternative and unconventional fuels to liquid hydrocarbons: GTL, CTL, BTL, kerogensTL, BitumensTL, etc etc, provides a multiple bypass to the oil commodities markets. Such alternative routes to fuel makes the work of the energy mafias and faux environmentalists much harder -- unless they can use bribed politicians to stop the alternatives and unconventionals.

Cross-posted to Al Fin

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