Applied Research Associates: Biofuels Digest’s 2015 5-Minute Guide

5-Minute-Guide-logoApplied Research Associates (ARA) is an international research and engineering company recognized for providing technically excellent solutions to complex and challenging problems in the physical sciences. Our mission is to provide in-depth and diversified research, engineering, and technical support services. We have a broad range of technical expertise in defense technologies, civil engineering, computer software and simulation, systems analysis, environmental technologies, and blast testing and measurement.

The situation

ARA and Blue Sun Advanced Fuels are performing on a Defense Logistics Agency Energy contract that was awarded for production of 100% drop-in renewable jet and diesel fuel utilizing ARA’s and Chevron Lummus Global’s Biofuels ISOCONVERSION technology. The first contract fuel deliveries were made in February of 2015; the remainder of the fuel will be delivered in 2015 and 2016 to support certification and testing of renewable fuels for U.S. Navy ships and aircraft.

The contract calls for production of CHCD-76 and CHCJ-5. CHCD-76 is a catalytic hydrothermal conversion diesel fuel, developed as a variation of the commercial ReadiDiesel® with the intention to meet the Navy’s F-76 Naval Marine Distillate Fuel spec and qualification protocols. CHCJ-5 denotes a catalytic hydrothermal conversion jet fuel, developed as a variation of the commercial ReadiJet® with the intention to meet the Navy’s JP-5 jet fuel spec and qualification protocols.

This technology won the Digest’s own 2012 Best New Fuel Award. At the time we wrote: “Aviation biofuels is, without a doubt, one area in which just about everyone agrees that biofuels have a strong future, if the economics are there and the product is a drop-in fuel. Well, nothing is more of a drop-in than a 100% drop-in, but to this point, a shortage of aromatics in renewable aviation fuels have restricted biofuel blends to 50/50 with fossil fuel. That cuts out, potentially, 30 billion gallons of global demand – and is there ever demand.

Type of Technology

The Biofuels ISOCONVERSION Process utilizes patented Catalytic Hydrothermolysis (CH) reactor technology, developed by Applied Research Associates (ARA), which utilizes water as a catalyst to quickly and inexpensively convert plant oils into stable intermediate oil products which are very similar to petroleum crude oil. The intermediate oils are processed with hydrogen using CLG’s ISOCONVERSION catalysts to produce drop-in jet fuel and diesel. Unlike most other process technologies, the renewable fuels produced by this process are 100% replacements for petroleum-based jet and diesel fuel.”

ARA scientists developed the CH Process using high temperature water to create biocrude.  A U.S. patent on the CH Process technology was granted to ARA in 2010.

Feedstocks

The drop-in fuel was produced using AgrisomaResonance Energy Feedstock, a dedicated industrial oilseed that was launched at commercial scale in 2012 across a broad region of western Canada.  Resonance Energy Feedstock produces a unique industrial oil ideally suited for biofuel manufacturing.  Resonance is part of a new generation of sustainable and scalable biomass crops, specially developed to provide a non-food oil that represent a step change for the renewable fuels industry, breaking the reliance on food crops to supply feedstock for biofuel manufacturing.

Top Past Milestones

In March 2014, Blue Sun Energy, ARA, and Chevron Lummus Global achieved a key development milestone with their 100 barrel/day (4,200 gallon/per day) demonstration-scale Biofuels ISOCONVERSION facility in St. Joseph, Mo. Less than a year after beginning engineering to scale the technology, the team has completed plant commissioning and has begun 24/7 system operation.

“We are a step closer to our goal of commercial scale production of 100% drop-in diesel and jet fuel from industrial and waste oils at prices competitive with their petroleum counterparts,” said Chuck Red, Vice President of Fuels Development at ARA.

In January 2013, Applied Research Associates and Blue Sun Energy had announced a partnership to build a biofuels isoconversion process demonstration system to produce drop-in renewable jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline.

In December 2012, Popular Science magazine named the 100 percent biofuels-fueled test flight this year as one of its 25 “Big Science Stories Of 2012″. The flight involved a partnership including Applied Research Associates, Chevron Lummus Global, the National Research Council of Canada, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and Agrisoma Biosciences. The ReadiJeft fuel flight took place in Ottawa, Canada using carinata developed by Agrisoma and processing technology developed by CLG and ARA.

In September 2012, Applied Research Associates, Chevron Lummus Global, the National Research Council of Canada, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and Agrisoma Biosciences, announced an agreement to test CLG and ARA’s 100% drop-in ReadiJet Fuel. ARA and NRC will test the renewable jet fuel against ASTM and military specifications and evaluate the fuel in ground based engine tests, with the initiative culminating in a test flight with the NRC Falcon-20 twin engine jet. This flight will be the first time in the world a jet aircraft is powered by 100%, un-blended, renewable jet fuel that meets petroleum jet fuel specifications. The biofuel, ReadiJet, was produced by ARA, under contract to AFRL, from Agrisoma’s Resonance feedstock crop using CLG’s and ARA’s breakthrough Biofuel ISOCONVERSION process.

In August 2012, Aemetis announced a license agreement with Chevron Lummus Global for the inexpensive, rapid production of renewable jet and diesel fuel by the conversion of existing biofuels and petroleum refineries. The license agreement grants Aemetis Advanced Fuels Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aemetis, the use of the Biofuels ISOCONVERSION Process for the production of 100% drop-in renewable jet fuel and diesel in Aemetis biorefineries throughout North America.

Future Milestones

Commercial deployment.

Business Model:

Licensing.

Competitive Edge:

100% drop-in capability.

Distribution, Research, Marketing or Production Partnerships or Alliances.

In May 2012, ARA announced that Chevron Lummus Global joined the ReadiJet Alternative Fuel Initiative to develop drop-in biofuels for jet and diesel engines, eliminating the need for blending with petroleum.   The joint development effort combines ARA’s CH PROCESS technology with Chevron Lummus Global’s ISOCONVERSION process technology.  Commercial samples of ReadiJet™ fuel are currently being produced in anticipation of a number of key upcoming activities including ground engine testing at OEM facilities, a test flight planned for June 2012 and generation of fit-for-purpose data necessary for ASTM certification.

Stage:

Demonstration, ready for commercial.

Website.

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