Terrabon lands Logos contract to advance biojet efforts

By Bryan Sims | July 28, 2011

Houston-based Terrabon Inc. has been awarded a $9.6 million, 18-month contract by Logos Technologies Inc. to design a renewable and more economical jet fuel production solution for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Started in April, a customized production process for DARPA will be engineered, constructed and operated at Terrabon’s demonstration facility in Bryan, Texas, to produce 6,000 liters of jet fuel using the company’s proprietary MixAlco biomass conversion technology. Originally developed at Texas A&M University, Terrabon’s MixAlco process converts low-cost, nonfood biomass into valuable chemicals such as acetic acid, ketones and alcohols that can be further processed into renewable fuels, such as biojet fuel.

The new contract with Logos, according to Terrabon Chief Operating Officer Simon Upfill-Brown, represents the second phase of a partnership that originally began over a year ago to validate Terrabon’s MixAlco process to produce biojet fuel. In the first phase, Terrabon, along with other third-party collaborators, produced 100 liters of biojet fuel with Logos, DARPA’s main contractor assisting in the commercialization effort to bring biojet fuel technologies to market.

“Now, we want to be able to do it all ‘soup to nuts’ at our [demonstration] facility,” Upfill-Brown told Biorefining Magazine. “[The contract with Logos] is really good confirmation we’re headed in the right direction.”

While Terrabon intends to steadily produce some quantities of biojet fuel at its Bryan facility along with other fuels and chemicals, it also intends to deploy new technology co-located onsite, where feedstock is easily accessible, said Upfill-Brown.

“I think at some point, part of the relationship we have with Logos now wil be to find a way to do this that can drive commercialization at sites such as landfills that are close to Air Force or Navy bases,” he said.

Additionally, Terrabon intends to use the 6,000 liters produced at the Bryan facility for fit-for-purpose, performance and OEM testing to begin qualification for the alcohol-to-jet pathway under the ASTM D7566 specification. “Obviously, 6,000 liters isn’t enough for flight testing,” Upfill-Brown said. “The plan for us would be to make flight tests at our first commercial plant, which we hope to break ground on early next year somewhere in Texas.”