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Synthetic Fuel Production Goes Large-Scale

by | Oct 20, 2010 | Industrial Energy & Onsite Utilities, Industry

Jim Cahill

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Social Marketing Leader

In a study by Hart Energy Consulting, they project:

…global biofuels demand is still projected to grow by an impressive 133% by 2020 – primarily by government policies and market mandates.

At the recent Emerson Exchange meeting in San Antonio, Texas, Emerson’s Al Novak had a chance to share his thoughts on biofuels in a San Antonio Express-News article, Biofuels emerging as a vital investment. You may recall Al from earlier alternative energy-related posts.

He described the first large-scale, renewable diesel plant in the U.S., the Dynamic Fuels plant in Geismar, Louisiana:

It’ll open this year and will produce 75 million gallons a year of high-purity, biomass-based, chicken-fat-based diesel fuel that is chemically identical to petroleum-derived diesel, but with a lot of good properties. It’ll be the largest producing plant of renewable diesel plant in the U.S.

Al noted some of the challenges in the production of biodiesel:

You’re taking a solid (and breaking it) into its component pieces. You either have to do that biologically or through heat and pressure or through a catalyst or some other mechanism. You really strip it down so that you can start combining the molecule into the form you want. In extreme cases, some are taking it all the way down to molecules of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and then recombining it into the molecule they want, so that it looks like a conventional hydrocarbon.

Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, shared that the end product in this production process is:

…to make a molecule that’s a hydrocarbon molecule exactly as it came out of a barrel of oil.

Several of the existing energy companies are taking a venture capital role and investing in different biofuels technology companies to see which of these technologies will ultimately succeed to be part of the global mix of energy production.

Doug Morris, a member of Al’s Alternative Energy team, shared that he and Al will be at an upcoming Advanced Biofuels Markets conference that will be held in San Francisco on November 9-10, 2010. The conference is assembling experts from advanced biofuels producers, venture capitalists, investment bankers, corporate strategic investment and alliance executives, engineering procurement & construction (EPC) firm members, and industry suppliers.

If you’ll be at this event, follow Al and Doug’s hyperlinks to connect with them via email. Also, look for Doug’s Twitter tweets from the conference by following him at @DM_Morris.


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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.