Ulupono Initiative

ClearFuels

A leading bioenergy technology developer working to commercially deploy alternative energy.

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Background

Rentech, Inc. (NYSE MKT: RTK) is a leading bioenergy technology developer working with partners for the commercial deployment of its alternative energy technologies. Jet fuel produced by the company’s technologies is certified for U.S. commercial and military use.

With potential partners, Rentech is seeking to deploy its technologies into potential biomass-to-energy projects in the Southeastern U.S., Hawaii and internationally that would use an integrated design that can be co-located at sugar mills and wood processing facilities. The Rentech-ClearFuels design can be deployed to help achieve compliance with the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme as well as other low carbon fuels standards and renewable mandates.

Rentech believes that fuels and power produced from biomass using its technologies will have very low lifecycle carbon footprints, approaching zero in some cases, depending on the type and source of the feedstock. Using biomass for fuels and power production can also divert the feedstock from disposal in landfills or other uses that generally have greater lifecycle carbon footprints.

Rentech constructed and operates a Product Demonstration Unit (PDU), which is a demonstration-scale plant at Rentech Energy Technology Center located in Commerce City, Colorado. The company believes the PDU is the only operating integrated synthetic transportation fuels facility in the United States. The PDU is capable of producing approximately ten barrels per day of synthetic fuels. Since coming on-line in 2008, it has produced thousands of gallons of ultra-clean synthetic fuels from natural gas at the PDU. The United States Air Force, United Airlines, and Audi of America, Inc., among others, have utilized and/or tested jet and diesel fuels produced from Rentech’s technologies. In November 2011, the company also completed construction of a demonstration-scale Rentech-ClearFuels gasifier at its facility in Colorado, with the assistance of a $23 million grant from the United States Department of Energy to validate bio-refining technologies. The Rentech-ClearFuels gasifier has produced syngas from biomass feedstocks, which enables the company to produce jet and diesel fuels from biomass at the PDU at demonstration scale.

Why We Invested

Ulupono Initiative invests in organizations and companies working toward more sustainable food, energy, and waste systems in Hawaii. The ClearFuels technology offered opportunities for impact in energy and waste by utilizing biomass to create jet and diesel biofuels, thereby directly displacing oil-based fuels. Locally, a 20-million gallon per year biofuels project is being developed in Hawaii with Alexander & Baldwin that could use the integrated Rentech-ClearFuels design. The company is negotiating with Hawaiian Electric Company for a long-term conditional off-take contract for renewable diesel for fueling of a power generator to be located at a proposed Hawaii project site that would utilize the Rentech-ClearFuels biomass gasification process and Rentech’s synthetic fuels technology to produce synthetic diesel fuel from bagasse. Any agreement that results from these negotiations requires approval from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. 

 

 

Impact

  • Used biomass gasification and synthetic fuels technologies to produce synthetic diesel fuel from bagasse, a waste byproduct of sugar cane production
  • Potential of a very low lifecycle carbon footprint from the biomass fuels and power created by the Rentech-ClearFuels process and technology
  • Diversion of biomass feedstock from landfills for power and lower lifecycle carbon footprints

At a Glance

 

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Investment Area
Energy, Waste
Financial Model
For-Profit
Website
RentechInc.com