Rentech, Inc. has announced that the Company has successfully produced synthetic fuels at its Product Demonstration Unit in Commerce City, Colorado.
Rentech’s PDU is the only synthetic fuels facility in the United States today producing transportation fuels. The facility is designed to produce approximately 420 gallons per day of synthetic jet and diesel fuels and demonstrates the successful design, construction and operation of a fully-integrated synthetic fuels facility utilizing the Rentech Process.
D. Hunt Ramsbottom, President and CEO of Rentech, said, “The initial production run of ultra clean synthetic fuels at our Product Demonstration Unit has been very successful and demonstrates the strength of the Rentech Process. Once product samples from the PDU are tested and approved by our potential customers, licensees and partners, we believe we will be well positioned to enter into contracts with them.”
Commenting on Rentech’s successful production of synthetic fuels, Jim May, President and CEO of Air Transport Association of America (ATA), said, “We congratulate Rentech in their achievement and applaud this step toward deployment of their alternative jet fuel technology using diverse and abundant sources. With our economy and U.S. airlines both suffering greatly from high oil prices and reliance upon imports, the Air Transport Association and its member airlines are leading the way in promoting the development of cleaner, lower cost jet fuels to meet the industry’s operational needs and environmental goals. Our industry is encouraged by the fact that test samples from Rentech will now be available to enable us to confirm that their products will meet our environmental, safety and economic requirements and we anxiously await the broad availability of such new fuels in the market place.”
The Rentech Process is a patented and proprietary technology that converts synthesis gas from carbon-bearing resources into hydrocarbons that can be processed and upgraded into ultra clean synthetic jet and diesel fuels. Rentech’s Colorado facility provides a platform for the production of these products from a wide variety of resources, including waste materials, into fuels that could have a potentially carbon neutral or even carbon negative footprint. These fuels are also cleaner burning and more efficient than petroleum-derived fuels. The PDU is currently producing synthetic fuels from natural gas, and once gasification is added, it will also be capable of producing fuels from biomass and other fossil resources.
Rentech believes the design of the PDU will verify the engineering parameters for scale-up to commercial operations. In addition, the PDU provides the Company with valuable engineering, design and process knowledge that will be transferred to the planning and construction of its commercial scale facilities.
Achieving production at the PDU is the result of the successful operation and integration of all processes at the facility, including the steam methane reformer for the production of synthesis gas; the conversion of the synthesis gas in the Rentech reactor into clean hydrocarbons; the separation of the Rentech catalyst from the wax produced from the reactor; and the processing and upgrading of the hydrocarbons into ultra-clean synthetic fuels using UOP hydrocracking and hydrotreating technologies. Rentech and UOP maintain an alliance which provides a one-stop solution to developers of commercial synthetic fuels facilities worldwide for synthesis gas conversion and product upgrading.
With the PDU successfully operating, the Company will focus on confirming and refining the design parameters of the Rentech Process during longer-term production runs as well as the effect of various operating parameters on product yields and composition.
Commenting on the success at the PDU, Dr. Harold Wright, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Rentech, said, “As a result of the hard work of our skilled technical and operating teams at the PDU, today Rentech has the only operating synthetic transportation fuels facility in the United States. I am pleased to report that the catalytic reaction in the Rentech reactor thus far has exceeded our expectations.” Dr. Wright continued, “We are able to produce a quality of syngas at the PDU that is typically created from solid feedstock, which we believe demonstrates that the Rentech catalyst can successfully react with syngas streams from a wide variety of feedstock including natural gas, biomass and fossil based resources.”