New US plant will convert household waste into fuel

Article by Amanda Doyle

FULCRUM BioEnergy has announced that it will convert municipal solid waste into biojet fuel using technology developed by Johnson Matthey and BP.

Fulcrum’s Sierra BioFuels Plant in Nevada, US, will begin commercial operations in the first quarter of 2020. It will be the first commercial-scale plant in the US to convert household waste into a low-carbon fuel and is expected to convert around 175,000 t/y of waste into 50m L/y of fuel.

Johnson Matthey and BP have signed an agreement with Fulcrum to licence their Fischer-Tropsch technology. The proprietary FT technology can operate at both large and small scales to convert synthesis gas – which has been generated from sources such as waste or biomass – into long-chain hydrocarbons suitable for fuel production.

Jim Macias, Fulcrum BioEnergy president and chief executive officer, said:

“We have been following BP and Johnson Matthey’s progress for several years, including the demonstrated performance and reliability of their innovative design. We are pleased to partner with them and license this improved FT technology for our Sierra BioFuels Plant. The BP/JM technology enhances the value of Fulcrum’s process for converting waste to low-carbon, drop-in fuels. We look forward to working with BP and JM as we build out our large development programme.”

Eugene McKenna, business development and innovation director at JM added:

“We are delighted that Fulcrum has selected this technology to support their ambitions in supplying renewable fuels at significant scale. This is an important step in decarbonising transportation fuels and we will continue to use our science and engineering skills to facilitate wider adoption of this technology."

Johnson Matthey and BP won the IChemE Research Project Award and Oil and Gas Award in 2017 for the FT technology, which has three times the productivity of a conventional multi-tubular fixed bed reactor with significant environmental and operational benefits.

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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