Spanish firm Abengoa has secured a $200 million contract from Fulcrum BioEnergy to build a biorefinery using gasification technology to convert 200,000 tons (181,437 tonnes) of municipal solid waste (MSW) into syncrude that will be upgraded into jet fuel.

To be located at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Centre, approximately 20 miles east of Reno, Nevada, the plant is expected to produce more than 10 million gallons (38 million litres) of biofuel per year.

Abengoa will deliver the plant using gasification technology from ThermoChem Recovery International, licensed to Fulcrum, as part of an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract.


The project is expected to start commercial operation in the third quarter of 2017.

Airline Cathay Pacific could be one of the fuel off-takers from the plant, following equity investment and a long-term fuel agreement with Fulcrum last year.

The process will begin with the gasification of organic material in the MSW feedstock to a synthesis gas (syngas) which consists primarily of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. This syngas is purified and processed through the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process to produce a syncrude product which is then upgraded to jet fuel or diesel.

During the gasification process, the prepared MSW feedstock rapidly heats up upon entry into the steam-reforming gasifier and converts to syngas. A venturi scrubber captures and removes any entrained particulate and the syngas is further cooled in a packed gas cooler scrubber.

Cleaned syngas is them processed through an amine system to capture and remove sulfur and carbon dioxide. The syngas then enters the secondary gas clean-up section that contains compression to increase syngas to the pressure required by the FT process.

E. James Macias, president and chief executive officer at Fulcrum, said: “Abengoa has the skill and horsepower to take our design and technology development and successfully turn it into an operating commercial plant.”

In October last year Abengoa opened its second generation cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, Kansas, which processes biomass feedstocks.

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