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January 13, 2010

UOP to receive DoE award for cellulose-to-fuel plant

Scott Jenkins

UOP LLC (Des Plaines, Ill.; will receive a US$25 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy (Washington, D.C.; to construct a demonstration plant for converting cellulosic biomass to transportation fuels.

Scheduled to begin operations in 2014, the unit will be built at the Tesoro Corp. (San Antonio, Texas; refinery in Kapolei, Hawaii.

The demonstration plant will employ RTP (rapid thermal processing) technology developed by UOP and Ensyn Corp. (Ottowa, Canada; RTP rapidly heats biomass at ambient pressure to generate high yields of pourable liquid pyrolysis oil. The pyrolysis oil is then upgraded using technology developed by UOP in conjunction with researchers at two Department of Energy laboratories: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, Colo.; and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Richland, Wash.; 

Several types of cellulosic feedstocks from different suppliers will be used in the project. Feedstocks include selected waste agricultural products, pulp, paper, woody biomass, algae and dedicated energy crops like switchgrass and high-biomass sorghum. 

The biofuel ultimately produced at the demonstration unit will be analyzed by a panel of petroleum refiners and will be evaluated for end-use by UOP parent company Honeywell International Inc. (Morristown, N.J.;, General Motors Corp. (Detroit, Mich.; and Boeing Co. (Chicago, Ill.; In addition, a life-cycle analysis of the project will be carried out by researchers at Michigan Technological University (Hougton, Mich.;

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