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Johnson Matthey and BP license biofuels technology for Fulcrum BioEnergy site in Nevada

By Mary Page Bailey |

Johnson Matthey (JM; London; www.matthey.com) and BP plc (London; www.bp.com) have signed an agreement to license the companies’ Fischer Tropsch (FT) technology to support biofuels producer Fulcrum BioEnergy and their drive to convert municipal solid waste into biojet fuel.

The FT technology can operate both at large and small scales to economically convert synthesis gas (syngas), generated from sources such as municipal solid waste and other renewable biomass, into long-chain hydrocarbons suitable for the production of diesel and jet fuels. Fulcrum will use the technology in their new Sierra BioFuels Plant located in Storey County, Nevada, approximately 20 miles east of Reno.

The Sierra plant will be the first commercial-scale plant in the U.S. to convert municipal solid waste feedstock, or household garbage that would otherwise be landfilled, into a low-carbon, renewable transportation fuel. When the plant begins commercial operation, planned for the first quarter of 2020, Sierra is expected to convert approximately 175,000 tons of household garbage into approximately 11 million gallons of fuel each year.

Angelo Amorelli, BP’s technology vice-president of group research, said: “Through our partnership with Johnson Matthey, we have developed a robust high-quality technology built on great science and great engineering. Our technology can help deliver innovative low carbon fuels that can play an important role in the energy transition. We see this first license as a stepping stone to other similar opportunities.”

Eugene McKenna, Business Development and Innovation Director at JM added: “JM is a leader in science that makes the world cleaner and healthier and in bringing this latest technology to market, we continue to apply our expertise to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges. We are delighted that Fulcrum has selected this technology to support their ambitions in supplying renewable fuels at significant scale. This is an important step in decarbonizing transportation fuels and we will continue to use our science and engineering skills to facilitate wider adoption of this technology.”

“We have been following BP and Johnson Matthey’s progress for several years, including the demonstrated performance and reliability of their innovative design. We are pleased to partner with them and license this improved FT technology for our Sierra BioFuels Plant,” said Jim Macias, Fulcrum BioEnergy President and Chief Executive Officer. “The BP/JM technology enhances the value of Fulcrum’s process for converting waste to low carbon, drop-in fuels. We look forward to working with BP and JM as we build out our large development program.”

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