4 plants receive $17.7 million from DOE for military fuels

By Chris Hanson | April 23, 2013

The U.S. DOE announced Frontline Bioenergy LLC, Cobalt Technologies Inc., Mercurius Biorefining LLC and BioProcess Algae LLC will receive $17.7 million with the aim of producing drop-in biofuels that meet military specifications for jet fuel and shipboard diesel.

Iowa-based, Frontline Bioenergy and its project partners, which are receiving up to $4.2 million from the department, will use the funds to build and integrate a pilot-scale TarFreeGas reactor and new gas conditioning processes with a Fisher-Tropsch unit to upgrade biomass-derived FT liquids for samples of military-grade biofuels. 

BioProcess Algae, also based in Iowa, will receive up to $6.4 million to evaluate an algal growth platform that produces military-grade fuels utilizing carbon dioxide, lignocellulosic sugars and waste heat. In addition to producing military fuels, the proposed facility will integrate autotrophic algal production, accelerated lipid production and conversion to produce other types of hydrocarbons, glycerine and animal feeds.

Approximately $4.6 million is awarded to Washington-based Mercurius Biorefining and partners to construct a pilot plant to convert cellulosic biomass into nonsugar intermediates to be used in the manufacturing of drop-in, jet biofuel and other chemicals.

Lastly, California-based Cobalt Technologies, Naval Air Warfare China Lake Weapons Division, Show Me Energy Cooperative and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will receive a total of $2.5 million to convert switchgrass-derived butanol into jet fuel in a new pilot-scale facility. Cobalt’s role in the project includes operating the pilot-scale biorefinery, evaluating scalability and assessing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“Advanced biofuels are an important part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above strategy to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, improve our energy security and protect our air and water,” said Steven Chu, secretary of the DOE. “The innovative biorefinery projects announced today mark an important step toward producing fuels for our American military and the civil aviation industry from renewable resources found right here in the United States.”