Through the NARA project under the USDA grant, Gevo intends to convert woody biomass feedstocks into renewable aviation biofuel and other renewable chemicals including polymers, solvents for paints, and renewable rubber.
To create these products, Gevo plans to use a genetically engineered yeast biocatalyst to produce renewable isobutanol. Isobutanol, which Gevo currently produces from corn starch, can be converted to jet fuel using refining industry-based chemical processes. This jet fuel is identical to petrochemical jet fuel – except that the carbon in it is renewable.
By employing woody biomass feedstocks to produce isobutanol, Gevo will help the airline industry expand its options to significantly reduce GHG’s. Isobutanol, a four-carbon alcohol, can be converted to a mix of predominantly C12/C16 hydrocarbons, making it an ideal platform molecule to produce renewable iso-paraffinic kersonse (IPK), a blendstock used in jet fuel. IPK made from isobutanol has advantages:
- Blend Rate: May be blended up to a 1:1 ratio with jet fuel
- Properties: Has a -80°C freeze point, high thermal oxidation stability and meets ASTM distillation curve requirements
- Regulatory: May generate up to 80 RIN credits per 100 gallons of finished product, at a blend rate of 50%
- Tax Credit: Currently qualifies for a $1.00/gallon tax credit
- GHG: Has the potential to significantly reduce GHG emissions compared to petroleum derived jet fuel
Gevo will initially develop isobutanol using woody biomass at laboratory and pilot scales and then at a 40,000-liter demonstration scale.
Gevo previously reported a non-bonding deal with United Airlines to supply their hub in Chicago O’Hare with renewable bio jet fuel and has discussions underway with other airlines.