This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is an innovative route to produce liquid fuels from biomass. The process will convert biomass, including lignocellulosic biomass, to liquid fuels, with three key steps. First, a synthetic natural gas (SNG) or biogas is generated by either anaerobic digestion or by catalytic hydrothermal gasification. The SNG is rich in methane, which is activated with bromine to produce methyl bromide. Finally, the methyl bromide is coupled catalytically to higher hydrocarbons. Each of the steps is known, but proof of concept has not been established. Feasibility of the technology will be determined through a series of carefully planned laboratory experiments. It is anticipated that this research will exhibit technical viability, and demonstrate commercial feasibility. GRT has substantial experience with and intellectual property related to converting natural gas to fuels; the project is a natural extension of in-house expertise, utilizing existing facilities.
Substantial demand for carbon-neutral renewable fuels exists in contemporary society. The project contemplates a process to convert biomass into hydrocarbon fuels, with substantial market impact. The US DOE has estimated that as much as a billion tons per year of biomass is available sustainably for conversion to biofuels, sufficient to displace one third of petroleum use in the US. Society requires a process to produce biofuels at costs competitive with petroleum; a successful outcome to the project will satisfy that demand. GRT has partnered with Fortune 100 companies in the past for process development. Should technical and economic viability of the process be demonstrated, a similar partnership is anticipated.
This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).