Gas-to-liquids firm Velocys teams up with TRI

UK-based gas-to-liquids (GTL) company Velocys has announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ThermoChem Recovery International (TRI), establishing a strategic alliance.

TRI will be Velocys’ preferred supplier of gasification systems for its biomass-to-liquids (BTL) plants. The agreement will see the alliance partners rapidly deploy an integrated biorefinery offering that combines Velocys’ Fischer-Tropsch (FT) technology with TRI’s proven gasification technology.

TRI is a well-known provider of steam reforming gasification systems suitable for woody biomass and other waste feedstocks. TRI’s multi-feedstock demonstration plant in Durham, North Carolina has run for more than 10,000 hours, and has successfully shown that the syngas it produces is well-suited to the FT process and upgrading to ASTM-certified fuels.

Moreover, its systems have been selected for and deployed on various commercial North American projects including to Norampac, a division of Cascades Paper, at its Trenton facility in Ontario.

The partners have already started a joint development of the engineering design for a 1,400 barrel per day BTL plant to produce renewable diesel and jet fuels from woody biomass. TRI will support Velocys and its partners to further optimise overall plant cost and the financing of BTL plants through, for example, accessing governmental loan guarantee processes and securing independent engineering reviews.

Skid-mounted pilot plant

A key next step will be an integrated technology demonstration; Velocys will relocate its skid-mounted pilot plant from Ohio to the TRI facility in North Carolina. The joint demonstration has been selected for support as part of a competitive award granted by the US Department of Energy for the development of smaller scale integrated biorefineries.

The agreement is not exclusive on either party. The company expects the terms of the MoU to be reflected in legally-binding documentation within the coming months.

This is the second strategic partnership that has been agreed since a review of Velocys’ strategy was completed in Q4 2016. A core theme of the new strategy is to deliver, jointly with partners such as TRI, a “one-stop-shop” offer to customers - a fully integrated and financed, cost effective and operations-ready plant solution.

David Pummell, CEO of Velocys, said: “We are excited to be working with TRI who we believe have best-in-class gasification technology. We believe our integrated technology solution will be a proven and financeable route to cost-effective plants producing premium renewable fuels.

“It represents a very significant step forward in the development of a fully integrated offer to our customers, increasing our control over delivery through world class partnerships. I look forward to providing further details of this deal and other strategic alliances that will support our new strategy.”

Dan Burciaga, president and CEO of TRI, said: “We know that the close integration of syngas conversion technologies with TRI’s gasification platform can yield superior integrated biorefineries and are convinced that the high intensity Velocys FT process will provide further enhancements. Multiple independent engineers have validated a number of waste-to-fuels projects that were proven in our demonstration plant.

“The TRI team looks forward to working with Velocys and its partners at an accelerated pace towards commercial renewable fuel facilities and, as part of that collaborative work, we intend to integrate the Velocys FT process into our demonstration facility within the year.”

This story was written by Liz Gyekye, editor of Biofuels International.


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