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Construction to begin on biomass-to-fuels facility

By Scott Jenkins |

Construction is set to begin on a biorefinery in Oregon this summer that will manufacture bio-based jet fuel and diesel from forest and sawmill residues. When it begins producing biofuels at the end of 2016, it will be capable of converting 140,000 dry tons of wood waste into 15 million gal of fuel annually, according to Terry Kulesa, the co-founder and president of Red Rock Biofuels (Fort Collins, Colo.; www.redrockbio.com), the company that will operate the biomass-to-fuels facility. Red Rock has engineered a process (photos) that combines existing technology in a novel manner to make jet fuel, diesel and naphtha from wood chips and small limbs leftover from sawmills. The process relies on a gasifier that integrates gasification with systems for steam-methane reforming (SMR) water-cleaning. The clean synthesis gas generated by the gasifier is fed to a Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) microchannel reactor from Velocys (Plain City, Ohio; www.velocys.com; see Chem. Eng., January 2010, pp. 17–19). The product mix from the small-scale F-T reactor is then refined to yield a 40/40/20% mix of jet fuel, diesel and naphtha, respectively. “Commercialization depended on de-risking the process,” Kulesa says, “by utilizing established technology…
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