Gevo, Inc. announced today a breakthrough to its fermentation technology that will allow it to produce isobutanol from cellulosic feedstocks such as wood waste which can then be converted into Gevo's alcohol-to-jet fuel.
Gevo currently makes isobutanol from corn at its plant in Luverne, Minn., but its process has always had the flexibility to adapt to other feedstocks. The process announced today uses forest residuals – the wood scraps that are left over from logging operations – providing a value creating recycling opportunity for waste wood that is traditionally left in the forest, potentially becoming a forest fire hazard. The company has previously announced the testing and use of its alcohol-to-jet fuel derived from its corn-based isobutanol in conjunction with major airline partners and the U.S. military.
Gevo has adapted its patented Gevo Integrated Fermentation Technology® (GIFT®) to convert the cellulosic sugars from wood into renewable isobutanol. Gevo then uses its patented hydrocarbon technology to convert the cellulosic isobutanol into alcohol-to-jet-synthetic paraffinic kerosene (ATJ-SPK) fuel.
The company's cellulosic isobutanol production will be conducted at a demonstration facility in St. Joseph, MO, that the company jointly operates with ICM Inc. The ATJ-SPK will be produced in Silsbee, TX, at the demonstration facility the company operates with South Hampton Resources.
Gevo is a member of the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) and is providing the organization with technology to enable the commercial scale processing of cellulosic sugars from wood waste into valuable products. The cellulosic jet fuel made using Gevo's technologies will be used in a 1,000-gallon renewable fuel demonstration test flight that NARA announced yesterday. Gevo's isobutanol and ATJ-SPK technologies are both planned to be licensed by NARA as part of this project.
"There are significant economic and environmental benefits of renewable jet fuel, which makes it a great market for Gevo. This announcement demonstrates the flexibility of our technology and reinforces our technology leadership," said Dr. Pat Gruber, Chief Executive Officer of Gevo, Inc. "The next two milestones for renewable jet fuel are the approval by ASTM and the scheduled commercial test flights. Our team is actively engaged in both of these activities."
"We're encouraged by Gevo's work with the NARA team in converting Pacific Northwest forest residual biomass into jet fuel, and look forward to working with them on this test flight and in the next phases of the commercialization of this technology," said Ralph Cavalieri, Director of NARA.
NARA is a five-year project supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and is comprised of 22 member organizations from industry, academia and government laboratories. Its mission is to facilitate development of biojet and bioproduct industries in the Pacific Northwest using forest residuals that would otherwise become waste products. A key task of the project is to evaluate the economic, environmental and societal benefits and impacts associated with such developments.