Posted: November 19, 2009

Biofuels: a big step towards microchannel hydroprocessing technology

(Nanowerk News) Microchannel processing has the potential to greatly increase the efficiency, effectiveness and commercial value for next generation biofuel production. A $2.7 million technology grant from the USDA-CSREES Biomass Research and Development Initiative Program awarded to a consortium led by Velocys, Inc., a subsidiary of the Oxford Catalysts Group PLC, will help to extend the advantages of microchannel technology to hydroprocessing for the production of biofuels.
The consortium will draw on Velocys' FT microreactor design concepts in order to optimise microchannel reactor performance to enable the production of liquid transportation fuels by upgrading of FT products derived from biomass feedstock and pyrolysis (or bio) oils generated via the fast pyrolysis of cellulosic biomass. A major goal of the project is to develop a single microchannel reactor design that will enable the hydroprocessing of a wide range of feedstocks. Because Velocys has already successfully completed a proof-of-concept demonstration of microchannel hydroprocessing technology, the new reactor design could be ready for field demonstration in just 2 years.
Jeff McDaniel, Business Development Director, Velocys said: "Competition for these grants is intense. Of the more than 900 applicants that submitted pre-proposals for this grant, we were very pleased to be one of just 12 to be selected."
Tom Hickey, President, Velocys said: "Synthetic diesel and jet fuel are one-to-one replacements for petroleum-derived products. They are 100% compatible with existing fuel delivery infrastructure. Green diesel produced from biomass via FT and pyrolysis is among the cleanest, lowest carbon fuels. It contains virtually no sulphur compounds and results in 90% lower life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum-derived diesel."
Roy Lipski, CEO of the Oxford Catalysts Group said: "The award of this grant highlights the importance of microchannel technology for hydroprocessing. Adding a hydrocracker to an FT-based biofuel process increases the liquid fuel yield from 25% to as much as 80% of the plant output."
Source: Oxford Catalysts Group