Byogy Renewables licenses technology

By Erin Voegele
Web exclusive posted August 21, 2008 at 4:52 p.m. CST

Byogy Renewables Inc. has licensed technology from Texas A&M University to convert biomass directly into high-octane gasoline. The technology was developed by researchers with the Texas Engineering Experiment Station.

While most other emerging processes convert biomass into alcohol, the integrated system developed by TEES' researchers converts biomass directly into gasoline. The system is relatively inexpensive and focuses on using biomass waste streams and non-food crops, creating a minimal impact on the environment.

The process involves fermentation. The biomass is either put into a digester that ultimately creates methane, or is converted into a stream of mixed alcohols through a different fermentation process. The methane or mixed alcohols are then put through a gas-to-liquids process developed by the researchers, which converts the methane or alcohol into gasoline.

"The economics appear to be good on this project," said Kenneth Hall, TEES' associate director. The estimated cost to convert biomass into gasoline through the process ranges between $1.70 and $2.00 per gallon, excluding government subsidies and tax credits.

According to Hall, one advantage of the process is the ability to use existing transportation infrastructure to move the fuel. He also cites that spills can actually be less dangerous because more people know how to fight a gasoline fire than an alcohol fire.

"Our goal with this technology is to achieve as much as a 2 percent contribution to the nation's gasoline demand by 2022 through the building of 200 more bio-refineries," said Benjamin J. Brant, Byogy Renewables' president and chief technology officer. "We firmly believe the TEES technology combined with the Byogy team offers this possibility."

Byogy, which has an exclusive license to the technology, is in the process of finding a location for the first facility. According to Daniel Rudnick, Byogy Renewables' chief executive officer, the company plans to be in commercial operation by the fourth quarter of 2010, with the first facility likely having the capacity to produce between 5 million and 7 million gallons of gasoline annually. Possible feedstocks include garbage, biosolids from wastewater treatment plants, lawn clippings, food waste, livestock manure and landfill gas.