DOE Awards Conditional $22 M Grant to ClearFuels, Rentech

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a conditional $22.6 million grant to ClearFuels Technology Inc. and Rentech, Inc. for their project to construct a biomass gasifier at Rentech’s Energy Technology Center in Denver.

The gasifier will be integrated with Rentech’s Product Demonstration Unit for the production of renewable synthetic fuels from biomass.

The conditional award follows the DOE’s selection of the project in December 2009 to receive funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to validate refining technologies and help lay the foundation for full commercial-scale development of an advanced biofuels industry in the United States. The award is conditional upon final approval of the application and any supplemental information as well as completion of negotiations.

The grant award will be used to manufacture and install a 20 ton-per-day ClearFuels biomass gasifier designed to produce synthesis gas from various wood waste and sugar cane bagasse feedstocks. The gasifier will be integrated with Rentech’s existing unit at the site, which uses the Rentech Process and UOP’s upgrading technologies to produce renewable drop-in synthetic jet and diesel fuels at demonstration scale. This joint demonstration of an integrated biorefinery is anticipated to be completed in late 2011 and will lead to the final design basis for commercial facilities that are expected to use the combined technologies. The proposed team for the demonstration project includes ClearFuels, Rentech, URS, Linde/Hydro-Chem, Hawaiian Electric Company, National Renewable Energy Lab and Hawaii Natural Energy Institute.

Rentech has a 25 percent strategic ownership interest in ClearFuels, which has begun development of multiple commercial-scale biomass-to-energy projects in the southeastern United States, Hawaii, and internationally. These projects are expected to use an integrated ClearFuels-Rentech design and be co-located at biomass processing facilities. Eric Darmstaedter, chief executive officer of ClearFuels, commented, “We are very pleased with our collaborative discussions with DOE. We expect to complete submission of required supplemental information and start receiving funds in the next few months to facilitate the demonstration of our integrated technologies."