Virent and Virdia Make Jet Fuel From Trees

Cindy Zimmerman

Under a joint energy project, Virent and Virdia (formerly HCL CleanTech) this week announced the successful conversion of cellulosic pine tree sugars to drop-in hydrocarbon fuels.

The development is part of the BIRD Energy project, a joint program started in January 2011 and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructure and the BIRD Foundation.

According to the companies, Virent used Virdia’s biomass-derived sugars to produce gasoline and jet fuel, the latter being sent to the U.S Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for analysis where it passed rigorous testing. “This fuel passed the most stringent specification tests we could throw at it (such as thermal stability) under some conditions where conventional jet fuels would fail,” said Tim Edwards of the Fuels Branch of the AFRL said, adding that the fuel is “worth further evaluation.”

Virdia’s CASE™ (Cold Acid Solvent Extraction) process uses low temperature, low pressure hydrolysis coupled with its closed loops of acid recovery and solvent extraction to produce high purity fractions of sugars and lignin. Virent’s BioForming platform utilizes a combination of catalytic processes to convert water-soluble oxygenated hydrocarbons derived from biomass to non-oxygenated hydrocarbons that can be used as drop-in compounds in gasoline, jet fuel and diesel fuel. Virent’s BioForming platform catalysts and reactor systems are similar to those found in today’s petroleum oil refineries and petrochemical complexes.

advanced biofuels, aviation biofuels, biojet fuel, biomass