Texas Governor Rick Perry has awarded $2.75 million from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF) to Terrabon for its work in biofuel technology development. (Earlier post.)

Governor Perry made the announcement in Laredo, where he and city officials announce the benefits of a water treatment project that will purify 50,000 gallons per day of brackish water for potable use in Laredo’s water supply system using Terrabon technology.

The city’s Santa Isabel Water Treatment Plant will utilize Terrabon’s AdVE technology, developed in partnership with Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), a member of the Texas A&M University System. The AdVE process will remove impurities using advanced vapor compression evaporation to produce drinkable water for Laredo. Further, the project will demonstrate the commercial viability of the desalination technology that also reduces the capital and operating costs of water purification. The pilot plant is being designed in cooperation with American Water’s Applied Management Group, which also will provide operating support.

Terrabon also has successfully produced high-octane gasoline made from non-food biomass at its demonstration facility in Bryan, Texas. Developed again in partnership with TEES, Terrabon’s MixAlco is an advanced bio-refining technology that converts low-cost, readily available, non-food, non-sterile biomass into valuable chemicals such as acetic acid, ketones and alcohols that can be processed into renewable gasoline fuels.

The MixAlco process converts biomass into organic chemicals and alcohols with a multi-stage anaerobic process that includes lime pretreatment, non-sterile acidogenic digestion, product concentration, thermal conversion to ketones and their subsequent hydrogenation to create mixed alcohol end products. Two different versions of the MixAlco process are available. Version one is the original process which produces mixed alcohol fuels. Version two produces carboxylate acids and primary alcohols (ethanol). Terrabon’s pathway to renewable gasoline is via the hydrogenation of a ketone (acetone) to isopropanol, and then the subsequent hydrogenation of isopropanol to gasoline.

The biomass used as feedstock includes municipal solid waste (MSW), sewage sludge, forest product residues such as wood chips, wood molasses and other wood waste, and non-edible energy crops such as sweet sorghum. The process is very robust and requires no sterility, which significantly lowers capital costs.

Terrabon holds the exclusive worldwide license from the Texas A&M System for this technology. After it has built the first few commercial plants, the company intends to license and joint venture this technology with industrial partners and others who play a major role in biomass collection or in transportation. Waste Management and Valero Energy Corporation are also key investors in Terrabon’s efforts to help deploy the company’s technologies on a commercial scale.

Terrabon plans to use the TETF investment to: conduct testing to optimize certain processes included in its biofuel technology; expand its joint research arrangement with the Texas A&M System; and extend the build-out of its demonstration facility in Bryan in order to facilitate processing of MSW and other feed stocks into “green” gasoline and other biofuels.