Solena signs LOI with Rentech for Fischer-Tropsch technology for first commercial-scale renewable jet fuel facility in Europe

The Solena Group, Inc., a bioenergy and biofuels company based in Washington DC, has signed a letter of intent with Rentech, Inc. for the use of Rentech’s proprietary Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthetic fuel technology in Solena’s BioJetFuel project—GreenSky—in the United Kingdom. (Earlier post.)

The facility will convert more than 500,000 metric tonnes of waste biomass feedstock into synthesis gas (BioSynGas) every year, using Solena’s proprietary plasma gasification technology. The BioSynGas will then be processed by Rentech’s Fischer-Tropsch technology into 16 million gallons of sustainable synthetic jet fuel (BioJetFuel) and nine million gallons of BioNaphtha. The facility will also export more than 20 megawatts of baseload renewable power to the grid after powering the entire facility with clean electricity.

The Solena plasma gasification vitrification (SPGV) reactor operates at a temperature around 5,000 °C (9,000 °F) and can effectively cause the complete disassociation of all hydrocarbon and organic materials into their elemental compounds, which in turn is converted to the syngas. A carbon-based catalyst is used to enhance gasification in the bed above the torches.

Solena’s fuel-flexible proprietary gasification technology will utilize waste biomass normally destined for landfill. Solena says that the BioSynGas derived from biomass and waste is ideally suited for FT processes based on an iron catalyst, which can operate efficiently with H2:CO ratios of 1—the typical ratio obtainable from biomass feedstock.

Rentech has already completed a preliminary engineering study to help facilitate the integration of the Rentech FT Process into the project.

Rentech’s iron-based catalyst Fischer-Tropsch process is an ideal fit for Solena’s proprietary gasification solution. Bringing the two technologies together will allow us to create a truly sustainable drop-in jet fuel with the potential to transform the aviation industry.

—Dr. Robert T. Do, CEO of Solena

Beginning 2012, all airlines will be included in the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme, requiring them to reduce their CO2 emissions or purchase additional carbon allowances. Separately, the International Air Transport Association has voluntarily agreed to a 50% emission cut of 2005 levels, by 2050. Solena says that the BioJetFuel project can deliver a reduction of more than two million tones of CO2, including 145,000 tonnes from the replacement of conventional kerosene-based fuel (a reduction of 95%).

Solena has identified potential sites for the project in East London and is in discussions with various funding sources to finance the project. Construction of the facility is expected to begin in 2012, with the plant anticipated to be operational by 2014.

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