Rentech signs jet fuel deals

By Anna Austin
Posted December 16, 2009, at 2:32 p.m. CST

California-based Rentech Inc. announced Tuesday that as a result of two years of negotiations, it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with 13 domestic and international air carriers for the supply of certified jet fuel from Rentech's proposed synthetic fuels and power facility in Adams County, Miss., near Natchez.

The nonbinding MOU includes Air Canada, AirTran Airways, American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, FedEx Express, JetBlue Airways, Lufthansa German Airlines, Mexicana Airlines, Polar Air Cargo, United Airlines, UPS Airlines and US Airways.

Though initially the Natchez project will use mostly fossil fuels, Rentech vice president of investor relations and communications Julie Dawoodjee said the company is currently evaluating the potential for integrating biomass into the facility. "We're doing some market studies to evaluate what type of biomass would be readily available and economic, at this time it's looking like it's going to be some type of a woody biomass," she said. Rentech owns 100 percent of a gasification process, which is capable of processing biomass on a commercial basis, and also has an investment in an additional biomass gasification technology. Dawoodjee said evaluations are underway to determine which would make the most sense to deploy at the Natchez project.

Negotiations with the air carriers has also led to the signing of definitive agreements with eight of the carriers for the purchase of RenDiesel produced at Rentech's planned biomass-based diesel production facility in Rialto, Calif., which will be used for ground vehicle equipment at Los Angeles International Airport.

Rentech unveiled plans to build the Rialto Renewable Energy Center in May, 2009. It will produce approximately 600 barrels per day of renewable synthetic fuels and export about 35 megawatts of electricity. Rentech's Rialto project manager Tim Dafoe told Biomass Magazine that progress on the facility is going well, and that Rentech began the permitting process last week which included the filing of environmental information forms with Rialto. "We finished the feasibility study on the site, which Jacobs engineering completed for us," he said, adding that the total cost of the facility is estimated at $430 million.

"From a biomass standpoint, we are working with a variety of different people that provide biomass in that area-primarily tree trimmings, grass and yard waste, and demolition and construction waste-to obtain feedstock supply agreements," Dafoe said. According to him, the facility would require about 2,300 tons of biomass per day.

Construction of the Rialto Renewable Energy Center is planned for mid-2011, with an estimated 18-month completion period.