Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Small Energy News

Oxford Catalysts is working on its third commercial order for its microchannel F-T GTL reactors.
The order comprises two full scale FT reactors (with a nominal capacity of more than 50 bpd) that form the first installment of reactors towards a commercial synthetic fuels plant expected to start operations in 2012. The customer intends to roll out additional plants following successful completion and operation of this first US commercial facility. The two reactors ordered will be delivered by the fourth quarter of 2011.

This is the Group’s third sale of FT reactors and catalyst, following separate orders for FT units by SGC Energia, SGPS, SA in December 2010 and April 2011. (Earlier post.)

Oxford Catalysts is focused on the emerging market for distributed smaller scale production of synthetic oil via FT synthesis—a market that has the potential of producing as much as 25 million barrels of fuel a day, the company says. _GCC
25 million barrels of synthetic crude per day??? That might put a dent in the dieoff.orgiast's hopes for energy starvation and mass dieoff. Not to mention dashing the desires for doom of all the peak oil doomers singing the echo choir of circular jerkular canons and rounds.

Global Bioenergies and Synthos are partnering to produce bio-butadiene.
Synthos SA, a European leader in the manufacturing of rubber, and Global Bioenergies SA, an industrial biology company developing sustainable routes to light olefins, signed a partnership agreement to develop a new process for the conversion of renewable resources into butadiene, involving research funding, multi-million euro development fees, royalty payments, repartition of exploitation rights, and a €1.4-million (US$2-million) equity investment in Global Bioenergies, representing a 3.6% stake.

Butadiene is one of the major building blocks of the petrochemical industry and is presently exclusively produced from oil. About 10 million tonnes are produced each year, of which two thirds are used to manufacture synthetic rubber. The last third is used to produce nylon, latices, ABS plastics and other polymers. The spot price of butadiene has recently rose to over $3/kg, and as such the global butadiene market is estimated at $30 billion. _GCC

Synthetic biology company LS9 is working with HCL Cleantech to develop a process of biomass to sugars to fuels. They are working under a $9 million DOE grant which covers the entire process from biomass to fuels, using genetically modified organisms.

Speaking of genetically modified organisms and synthetic biology, three names are coming up more often than others: Craig Venter, Jay Keasling, and George Church. George Church has made news with a paper in Science describing a dramatic new synthetic biology tool able to replace specific codons in a multiplex fashion wherever they are found in the micro-organism. This is only big news if you understand what it means. Although this particular incarnation of the tool is aimed at "stop codons," it is still theoretically capable of creating organisms that can synthesise unique proteins as therapeutic products.

The synthetic biologists are mainly concerned with the micro-organisms they can create, and the commercial products these microbes will be able to produce.

Eventually, the idea is to be able to simultaneously modify the genetic coding of a eukaryotic organism (such as a human) across the entire genome, with its complex multi-chromosome arrangement. That will not be so easy.

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