Mon 14 Oct 2013 – Brazil’s fast-growing airline Avianca Brasil has selected California-based Byogy Renewables’ alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fuel process as a future source of renewable alternative jet fuel. Byogy has developed a catalytic platform that converts any source of hydrous ethanol or butanol into full replacement, drop-in biofuels, including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. The company says as a world leader in the production of sugar cane ethanol, Brazil can leverage the Byogy ATJ process and develop a world leading sustainable aviation fuel industry. Avianca will make an Airbus A319 aircraft available for advance testing and data acquisition to support the ATJ specification adoption process underway by fuels certification body ASTM International.
“The road to achieve certification of an alternative aviation fuel and reach commercial scale volume production is challenging and long,” said Byogy CEO Kevin Weiss. “Avianca is the right partner for long journeys.”
Whereas most next-generation biofuels are still at least a decade or two from being economically sustainable and commercially scalable, says Byogy, its four-step technological process can leverage existing ethanol-based infrastructure to enable the conversion of sugar-based feedstocks into conventional drop-in biofuels. The ethanol is converted into a mixture of long chain hydrocarbons by catalytic synthesis and then fractionated into renewable jet fuel and gasoline.
The process parameters can be adjusted to target production of jet fuel and/or gasoline, depending on market conditions, and can also be used to produce chemical intermediates such as aromatics and other bio-chemicals.
In March 2012, Byogy announced a strategic partnership with Qatar Airways to support the global deployment of Byogy’s technology in terms of capital investment and an off-take commitment. The company also said it had entered into a feedstock agreement with Brazilian sugar cane ethanol producer Itapecuru Bioenergia and was in discussions on an off-take position with Brazil’s Azul Airways.
Meanwhile, another California-based bioenergy company, Algenetix, has announced a partnership with Alchimia, a biomaterials processing technology and deployment company, to develop high-oil miscanthus, a perennial grass, as a new source of biodiesel and biojet fuel.
Under the partnership, miscanthus will be transformed into a large-scale, next-generation ‘seedless oil’ crop capable, they say, of addressing not only the ethanol and biomass markets but also the sizeable European and US markets for biodiesel, biojet fuel and specialty products.
The two companies forecast oil production from miscanthus could be as much as 1.2 tons per acre, around 4.5 times the yield of soybeans.
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