A biomass-to-liquid success story

Oxford and Velocys scale-up their microchannel BTL process, taking it from a small demo plant in Austria to a larger commercial facility in Brazil.
By Ron Kotrba | June 02, 2011

I spoke with Jeff McDaniel, commercial director for the Oxford Catalyst Group, owner of microchannel process technology company Velocys, today about the company’s successful biomass-to-liquid demo plant in Gussing, Austria, and the building of a much larger BTL plant in Brazil.

The Gussing facility, which began operating last year, is co-located with an SGC Energia biomass gasification plant using wood for syngas production to combust for power generation. The BTL facility, sized at only 9,000 gallons a year McDaniel says, takes a slip stream of that syngas to produce Fischer Tropsch crude using Velocys microchannel technology and Oxford’s catalysts. The crude produced requires a final polishing step before use as FT diesel.

McDaniel, who will be speaking in London next week at the 11th World XLT Summit, said the Gussing trials demonstrated completion of initial phase testing after operating for 1,800 hours.

“It showed robust performance in real-world settings,” he said, adding that the process was able to withstand dozens of upstream shutdowns and disruptions, what he called “real-world demands” at such a facility.

The success of the BTL demo plant has led to the same company, SCG Energia based out of Portugal, to build a larger integrated BTL facility in Brazil using Velocys microchannel technology and Oxford’s catalysts. The feedstock for the 50 bbl/day (between 700,000 and 800,000 gallons a year) biorefinery has not been determined yet. Completion is slated for either the first or second quarter of 2012.