17 December 2010

Lipid Fermentation via Engineered Microbes for Bio-Jet Fuel


The US military's DARPA has awarded Logos technology with a $17.5 million phase 2 award to produce jet fuel from biomass, using microbial lipid fermentation.
This contract is to demonstrate an end-to-end Lipid Fermentation Process (LFP) at scale for the commercially viable production, from cellulosic biomass, of Hydrotreated Renewable Jet (HRJ) spec jet fuel—a near term surrogate for JP-8 that can be readily commercialized.

HRJ is produced from renewable oils (lipids) by methods common in petroleum refining. Fatty acids and triglycerides are hydrotreated to remove oxygen, and the resulting paraffinic hydrocarbons are processed to yield a mixture of straight-chain, branched-chain, and cyclic paraffinic hydrocarbons with collective properties that are similar to those of conventional jet fuel.

Oleaginous yeast can produce lipids from the sugars resulting from the pretreatment and hydrolysis of biomass; certain fungi can also produce lipids, either via solid-state fermentation of biomass or from the biomass hydrolyzate.

This primary program effort is to consist of optimized process development and engineering along with regionally specific economic modeling to produce fuel, demonstrate process energy efficiency and support commercialization.

...This phase of the BioJET program requires the delivery of larger quantities of jet fuel with a projected cost of production of JP-8 at commercial scale implementation (50Mgal/yr) at less than $3.00 per gallon. _GCC
Al Fin bio-synthesists believe that the greatest value of current advanced biofuels research is to put a rough ceiling on future prices of hydrocarbon fuels. Peak oil doomsayers claim that liquid fuels will have no price ceilings when "peak oil" truly hits the fan.

But that claim has already been falsified by the fact that shale gas cost per BTU is well less than half the cost of crude oil per BTU. As efficiencies of conversion from gas to liquids improve, we will see the "price ceiling" effect of shale gas begin to affect markets. Something similar will begin to happen in about ten years, as more efficient biomass to liquids processes begin to scale up.

Like everything associated with energy these days, oil futures markets are heavily politicised, and infiltrated by persons whose behaviour is -- shall we say -- somewhat less than ethical. The fluctuations of oil markets are highly profitable to those who know how to put their fingers on the scale in a reasonably surreptitious manner. But the conversion of alternative and unconventional fuels to liquid hydrocarbons: GTL, CTL, BTL, kerogensTL, BitumensTL, etc etc, provides a multiple bypass to the oil commodities markets. Such alternative routes to fuel makes the work of the energy mafias and faux environmentalists much harder -- unless they can use bribed politicians to stop the alternatives and unconventionals.

Cross-posted to Al Fin Energy

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Blogger Loren said...

Price ceiling assumes actual capital costs. Inflation will mean dollar(and other fiat measures) costs will continue to rise.

Friday, 17 December, 2010  
Blogger CarlBrannen said...

I read Goebbel's war diary for the last months of the war. His fascinating comment on the jet powered fighter the ME262 was that it was advantageous because it didn't require high octane gasoline like the piston engined aircraft. He said it could run off "dirty pond water". Now that's an exaggeration, but the fact is that jet fuel is much easier to produce biochemically than gasoline (and that's what the Nazis were doing). So I'm not surprised that the military is working on this; it's not a very difficult problem.

Friday, 17 December, 2010  
Blogger Kinuachdrach said...

"unless they can use bribed politicians to stop the alternatives and unconventionals."

But which politicians will be bribed to stop progress?

No doubt, too many Western politicians are functionally self-loathing and opposed to their own populations; they will gladly be bribed to stop progress.

On the other side, there are politicians in Russia, China, India, Brazil and ... Not that non-Western politicans are princes, but there is diversity in the market-place.

We are watching political Darwinism in action -- whichever societies promote technological advances will survive, prosper, and eventually dominate.

Saturday, 18 December, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...


Loren: Even in a time of deflation, inflation is always with us.

Carl: Interesting. It's doable, but a significant drop in the price of oil could bankrupt anyone who invested deeply in the process.

Kin: Yes. And behind the scenes, the Idiocracy is growing.

Nuclear weapons proliferation will not end with Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Syria... Nuclear war is not so unthinkable when one considers the millenia-old tribal antagonisms kept alive from one end of the third world to the other. Imagine all the Tutsis the Hutu could kill with nukes . . .

Now the eager buyers have willing sellers. Just a matter of time.

Sunday, 19 December, 2010  
Blogger CarlBrannen said...

Al, yep, and that's why the US military funds it. It's important that in the event of a "real" war, the US be able to fly military planes. No reason to repeat the German mistake of waiting until after the war begins.

Sunday, 19 December, 2010  

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