Renewable fuels hold great promise for addressing the aviation industry’s carbon impacts, and innovators and investors alike are clamoring to offer their solutions to rising fossil fuel costs and environmental considerations.
The following are the top ten contenders as determined by renewablejetfuels.org:
LanzaTech was founded in early 2005 with “a vision to be a dominant technology provider in the industrial bio-commodities arena.” The company develops and commercialises proprietary technologies for production of low carbon fuels that do not compromise food or land resources.
LanzaTech recently closed its series C investment led by the Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund. New investors included Petronas Technology Ventures Sdn Bhd and Dialog Group, a Malaysian integrated specialist technical services provider to the oil, gas and petrochemical industry.
2) SG Biofuels
SG Biofuels is a bioenergy crop company “meeting global demand for sustainable plant oil by using breeding and biotechnology to produce elite hybrid seeds of Jatropha.”
The firm completed a $17 million series B financing in January, led by Thomas, McNerney & Partners with participation from Finistere Ventures and current investors Flint Hills Resources, LLC and Life Technologies Corporation.
3) AltAir Fuels
AltAir Fuels was formed in 2008 to “develop projects for the production of jet fuel from renewable and sustainable oils.”
The company is designing and building a network of renewable jet fuel production facilities, with the first, located in Washington State, expected to begin production in late 2012. As far back as December 2009, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with 14 major airlines to negotiate purchase of 750 million gallons of renewable fuel.
Solazyme has “pioneered an industrial biotechnology platform that harnesses the prolific oil-producing ability of micro-algae.”
The company utilises industrial fermentation equipment to scale and accelerate algae’s natural oil production time to just a few days. Its products are feedstock flexible and can utilise a wide variety of plant-based sugars from plants such as sugarcane and corn. In December 2011, Solazyme announced a joint venture between Tyson Foods and Syntroleum Corporation to supply the US Navy with 450,000 gallons of renewable fuels.
5) Sapphire Energy
Sapphire Energy produces fuel from algae and states its aim is “to become the world’s leading producer of renewable, drop-in replacement fuels for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.”
Sapphire is led by an interdisciplinary team of entrepreneurs and experts in cell biology, plant genomics and algal production, as well as investors with long histories of taking innovative technologies to market, including co-founder Arch Venture Partners, along with the Wellcome Trust and Venrock. In December 2011, Forbes named Sapphire on its list of America’s most promising companies.
6) Dynamic Fuels
Dynamic Fuels Dynamic Fuels’ proprietary bio-synfining process produces renewable diesel it claims has “the lowest emission levels of any transportation fuel on the market.”
The company, a joint venture between Tyson Foods and Syntroleum, produces “renewable, synthetic fuels from animal fats, greases, and vegetable oils.”
Dynamic is building a plant in Louisiana where it will turn animal by-products into renewable diesel. The JV is investing more than $150 million in the 75 million gallon per year plant.
On February 1, the company announced it has entered into a strategic marketing alliance and commercial off-take and supply chain management agreements with Mansfield Oil Company to distribute renewable diesel to the commercial fleet vehicle market.
Gevo is developing biobased alternatives to petroleum-based products using a combination of synthetic biology and chemistry and plans to produce isobutanol, a “versatile platform chemical for the liquid fuels and petrochemical market,” which can be further processed into jet fuel.
The company’s technology can be used to convert existing ethanol plants into biorefineries.
8) Neste Oil
Neste Oil produces a “comprehensive range of major petroleum products” and claims to be the world’s leading supplier of renewable diesel. The company had net sales of €15.4 billion in 2011.
Last year saw a major investment programme, with a renewable diesel refinery in Rotterdam and our joint venture base oil plant in Bahrain opening. Its NExBTL renewable aviation fuel was also used for the first time to power an intercontinental flight in January 2011.
Formed in 1995 to fund biofuel research at Texas A&M University, technology transfer company Terrabon is commercialising three processes that “offer sensible, high-profit solutions to biofuel, water desalination and bio-product challenges.”
Its MixAlco bio-refining technology “converts readily available, non-food, non-sterile biomass into valuable chemicals including alcohols that can be processed into renewable gasoline fuels.”
Feedstock includes municipal solid waste, sewage sludge, forest product residues and non-edible energy crops. In July 2011, Terrabon was awarded a $9.6 million contract to design a more economical and renewable jet fuel for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
10) Envergent Technologies
Envergent Technologies is a joint venture between Ensyn and UOP that “provides a proven, practical way to convert biomass to fuel that with further upgrading can produce green transportation fuels.” Envergent claims it is the first company with fast pyrolysis process units in operation, and is “leading the charge on this path for clean energy.”
In August last year, the company began construction in Hawaii of a biofuels demonstration unit backed by a $25 million U.S. Department of Energy award, that will convert biomass into fuels, including jet fuel. The project is scheduled to begin initial production this year and is expected to be fully operational by 2014.
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