CORE selects Technip as construction engineering provider

By Erin Voegele | May 09, 2012

Canada-based CORE BioFuel Inc. has selected global engineering, construction and project management company Technip to complete the construction engineering of its first commercial-scale biorefinery. Once complete, the proposed plant will be capable of producing 67 million liters (17.7 million gallons) of renewable gasoline per year.

“We are very excited about working with Technip to provide the next step in our commercialization process, which is to complete the engineering for our first plant,” said CORE President George Stanko. “Technip, as a leader in syngas plant design, is uniquely positioned to support CORE through the critical engineering phase of commercialization.”

According to Doug Sheppard, CORE’s vice president of corporate development, Technip has built more than 200 syngas hydrogen plants in areas all around the world. Since CORE’s technology is similar to that process, it made sense for the company to select Technip. Sheppard also noted that Technip also has key relationships in place with many of the CORE’s equipment suppliers, including Air Products and Chemicals and Outotec. “I think the key to success is having highly qualified companies involved in your construction engineering,” he added.

CORE’s biofuel production technology is different from most others in the biorefining space, as it is not a newly invented process. Rather, CORE’s technology is a combination of existing, proven industrial processes. “What we do is take known processes and integrate them together,” Sheppard said. Since the technologies used in the process are already proven on a commercial scale, Sheppard noted that his company benefits from a risk management standpoint. “It allows us to qualify for performance guarantees,” he said.

CORE’s technology is a variant of a methanol-to-gasoline process developed by ExxonMobil that combines direct gasification modules developed by Energy Products of Idaho, now known as Outotec. Using the unique combination of technologies, CORE is able to take in waste wood feedstock and produce biobased gasoline in a direct manner, bypassing the production of methanol.

According to Sheppard, his company has identified a possible site for its first plant in British Columbia. However, he noted that several other communities have expressed interest in hosting the facility. CORE is currently working to raise funds to develop the proposed plant, and is looking primarily at the development of strategic partnerships. “We are in discussions right now with a major forestry company that may want to partner in a plant,” he said. If the funding initiative goes as planned, Sheppard said CORE believes its initial plant could be operational within a 24-month timeframe.