Vertimass completes scale-up technology validation with DOE

By Vertimass LLC | October 29, 2015

Vertimass LLC announced today the completion of the technology validation that verifies the benchmark performance, initial process design and preliminary cost information for a new award of $2 million by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technology Office. This achievement allows Vertimass to move fully forward with building the foundation from which to begin scale up within two years of its transformational technology for converting ethanol into hydrocarbons for blending with gasoline, diesel and jet fuels.

Vertimass technology was originated at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where scientists invented novel catalysts that convert a wide range of alcohols including ethanol and butanol into hydrocarbon blend stocks that can be used in existing gasoline, diesel and jet engines without modifications. Additionally, this process can produce renewable chemicals including benzene, toluene and xylenes (BTX).  Thus, Vertimass technology offers a new pathway that can enhance use of biomass-derived renewable fuels that lower greenhouse gas emissions and decrease U.S. reliance on foreign sources of oil.  Coproduction of BTX and other chemicals can enhance profitability.

“We are excited to clear this critical milestone with the Department of Energy and can now take the next step toward scaling up this novel technology,” said Dr. Charles Wyman, Vertimass president and chief executive officer.  “This technology validation further proves the effectiveness and novelty of this technology, and through this DOE award, we intend to work with Technip to ready the technology for introduction into existing and emerging ethanol facilities within two years, thereby significantly expanding the market for renewable transportation fuels.”

According to Wyman, the simple one-step Vertimass process can be easily bolted onto existing ethanol production facilities, resulting in low capital costs.  Additionally, due to a low pressure and moderate temperature reaction, no need to add hydrogen or other additives, and other advantages compared to prior attempts at alcohol conversion, operating costs are low as well.  This catalyst-based technology offers ethanol producers the ability to shift production in response to market changes, break the blend wall that now impedes further ethanol sales, and open up new alcohol markets for heavy-duty vehicles and air travel as well as chemicals. “This technology has the potential to change the transportation fuels landscape and has tremendously positive environmental impacts,” Wyman said.

“We are very pleased to receive third-party validation of this technology as part of the DOE award so we can now rapidly move to commercialization,” said Bill Shopoff, Vertimass chairman.  “We believe this technology will have significant impacts in the renewable plastics and fuels spaces, especially in contributing to attaining Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) targets for advanced fuels and Federal Aviation Administration goals of 1 billion gallons of renewable jet fuel by 2018.”