Fuels Processing


Enabling the Use of Distillate Fuels in Fuel-Cell Power and Cogen Systems

Altex has developed, with the support of DOE, a biomass densification process, called BBADS, that reduces cost by 76% and 84% relative to conventional pelletization and cubing approaches.  This field demonstrated system pictured below creates compact biomass logs, shown in the right of the picture, that are ready to be shipped economically to biorefinery sites. These sites can now be located significant distances from the dispersed sites where the biomass is grown. This allows the construction of fewer and larger biorefineries that will then lower the cost of biofuels production, making these biofuels competitive with fossil fuels. To date, BBADS has successfully densified a wide range of materials, including switchgrass, miscanthus, wheat straw, corn stover, and alfalfa, with some examples pictured below on the right.  Densities as high as 50lb/cf are possible with BBADS—see the examples below 

Another Altex innovation under development, with the support of DARPA, DOE and the Army, is a solid to liquid fuels conversion process that can convert biomass or housing (e.g. paper, cardboard, plastic) wastes into a drop-in and infrastructure compatible fuel.  Depending on the process parameters, either a jet or gasoline-like fuel can be produced.  The figure to the immediate right illustrates the jet-like fuel that meets all relevant JP-8 specifications.  Unlike alternative conversion processes, this process uses targeted intermediates as a base to create the final fuel form through catalytic reactors that have been developed in collaboration with PSU.  By not converting the feedstock all the way to a syngas, nor simply using pyrolysis to generate a crude feedstock, the process targets the optimal level of processing to minimize costs.  To date, tests have shown the capability of the process to successfully convert wood waste, housing waste, switchgrass, and wheat straw, as well as low rank lignite and sub-bituminous coals, into liquid fuel.  Based on the successes of the laboratory tests, the process is being scaled up for planned tests that will further demonstrate the process.


These systems are based on a desulfurizer that Altex and Pennsylvania State University (PSU) have developed, with the support of DARPA, ONR, Army and the Air Force. These units have been tested, and delivered to military clients that operate on JP-5, JP-8, and NATO F-76 fuels. These accomplishments have been leveraged to develop reformers for SOFC (below left picture) and HTPEM (below right picture) fuel cells, which have been delivered to ARL and CERDEC, respectively.

Currently Altex, with Army support, is optimizing the form factor of the CORE-Power system to produce a 225 liter TRL-6 10 kWe APU, for integration into a military vehicle. Also, with the support of the State of California Energy Commission, the CORE Cogen has been adapted for use in the commercial fast-food restaurant market, by converting the system to operate on waste vegetable oil produced at these establishments.